Lisa Elmaleh prefers her photography slow.
Lisa Elmaleh takes being analog in the digital age to a whole new level. Growing up with a camera-toting father and later, while studying photography at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, she loved watching an image emerge among chemicals in a darkroom.
Now Elmaleh—who relocated from Brooklyn, New York, to Paw Paw in Hampshire County three years ago—travels the country in her 1996 Toyota Tacoma, which serves as her darkroom. She takes tintype photos with an 8×10 format camera, a circa-1930s Century Universal, using the 19th century collodion “wet plate” process. Once she has snapped the 8-to-15-second exposure, Elmaleh must work fast, before the plate dries. “In the desert, you might have six minutes,” she says. “In West Virginia, in the middle of the summer, when it’s really dry, you have, like, 20 minutes.”
She does dabble in the digital world, though. She scans her prints to display them on her website, and she also can make printouts on paper of the scans to send to her subjects. Her work has been showcased in galleries all over the world—from Los Angeles to New York to Seoul, South Korea and Hong Kong—and she holds regular workshops for shutterbugs who want to learn the old ways. lisaelmaleh.com
Written by Mary Wade Burnside
Photo courtesy of Lisa Elmaleh