Catching shadows: Tintype Images of little known Native Americans now living on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
These images were made with the Wet Plate Collodion process as first described by Frederick Scott Archer in 1861. I used a wooden reproduction camera and a brass 1864 Petzval Portrait lens.
All the images were made over the period 2008-2012.
These Native Americans have pursued fairly obscure lives on a quite isolated Maryland penninsula. Because they were classified by the settlers as "colored" or "unknown", their original names and histories cannot be traced. For this reason they are not officially recognized by the Federal Government or by the State of Maryland. They are, however, acknowledged by the Maryland Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In contrast to the Native Americans of the American West, they were not granted indigenous sovereignty -they were given no land or support of any kind. Despite this lack of aid or acknowledgment, these tribes remain deeply committed to honoring their traditions.
My approach to the project was to let each person stand alone, speak for themselves, wear what they chose, and go eye-to-eye with the camera for the 5-20 second exposures required by the wet plate process. Recordings of their stories were made and played throughout the several exhibits along the penninsula.
The tin plates, coated with wet collodion formula, were processed immediately in my darkroom trailer. The men would stand around the truck tailgate for hours, swapping stories and waiting for their images to appear-with much ribbing and laughter.
Catching Shadows is archived at
The University of Maryland, Salisbury, Maryland.
The project was supported by:
The Maryland Arts Council
The Maryland Humanities Council
The Queen Anne's County Arts Council
The Chaney Foundation
Mrs. Lea Brooks