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Interview of Scott Anton

Could you introduce yourself a little, talk a bit about your background?

My name is Scott Anton, I am a farmer and logger in Maine, in the US. I am 48 and have made my living all my life from working the land.

When, how and why did you begin to make photography?

It wasn't really until last year, when I was 47, I picked up a camera and decided to shoot wet plate collodion. That was the beginning of my journey. I have spent my whole life looking for my voice, my art, my way to say what I need to communicate as an artist. I’ve worked in many forms of art but it wasn’t until I found wet plate photography that I really feel I found myself.

What do you like in this form of expression?

I love how it is so practical, physical, and "hands on". This particular photographic process is fickle, and the chemistry so sensitive, that on many days it seems to have a mind of its own. The whole process, in terms of the chemicals to use and working with producing images on metal and glass, seems to me to be very handmade, artisan, and "from the earth", and so very much like my life as a worker of the land.

What are the themes that you like to photograph?

I like to work with a story, such as that of a person, or even the story of an old house. However, I like things to be real, rather than fictional - that is, images not made up to look like something, but for the photo to tell the story. I create images of what I know, mainly my life with the land, and the love affairs in my life.

What are you looking to share through your photography?

My life. I have an idea of living in a way that captures the essence of my surroundings and my emotions, doesn't everyone? So I try to capture that. My experience.

What is your idea of sensuality?

Romantic, beautiful, soft, tactile, ephemeral, dream like.

What photographers fascinate and / or inspire you?

I have been lucky to meet and communicate with many photographers, mainly those using this particular process. These artists are my friends and they inspire me every day, and produce images that I find endlessly fascinating. These include more well known or professional photographers as well as unknowns, guys and girls who could live just down the street and shoot on weekends. I began my journey not knowing a thing, and so I have a real affinity with the underdog just starting out and finding his or her groove.

How do you prepare a session of shooting?

The process uses a lot of gear! The process is completely time sensitive, in the order of less than five minutes from exposure to development, and requires a portable darkroom complete with full set of chemicals. Add to that the fact that I shoot on metal or glass, rather than film, and also that I use one or more large box camera with bellows and interchangeable brass lenses, and it soon adds up. I almost always shoot outside and away from any standard darkroom. If I shoot out of my car, the equipment takes up the whole car. And then there are technical issues - the plates are "wet", and will freeze or dry easily, but nevertheless I shoot in rain, snow, hot and cold - none of it simple or easy. However, if I wanted easy I would not work in wet plate. And then, there is the additional "artistic" preparation with subject or model - but I like to shoot what I know or feel, so that comes far more naturally to me.

What (s) camera (s) do you use ?

My first plate ever, I produced using an old brownie box camera that had a big crack in it and a light leak. I cut a piece of glass to size, treated it with collodion and silver nitrate, and jammed it in where the film would usually go. My second camera I made myself from cedar wood, a simple box camera with no bellows. Now, I use larger, more standard looking bellows cameras. Right now my workhorse is a Burke and James 5x7.

What (s) techniques do you prefer?

Wet plate collodion is my process of choice. Other than that, I love working outside, with natural light: wet plate collodion is particularly sensitive to ultraviolet, with gives interesting tones to skin, and strange effects to what we normally think of as light and dark colors such as blues versus yellows. I love to experiment with very natural light and shadows.

How and why did your photography change?

When I began, I was very experimental, just seeing what it was possible to achieve. As I advance, I feel I am getting better, working much harder at it, and being more patient and focused on a concept: staying with a shot all day if needs be to try to get it right.

What brings you the internet media?

The internet is the only real way to find what I need to achieve the process. I essentially live in the woods in more or less the middle of nowhere, but yet via the internet, the community of wet platers is right at my fingertips. I feel an intense need and want to know my people, fellow artists, masters of this technique.

What do you expect from a website like Sensual Photography?

I am a diehard romantic. I love to see beautiful imagery and I appreciate the emotions it creates. In terms of my own work, I am so pleased when I manage to produce something that not only reflects what I feel, but invokes that emotion in others. Its about capturing something important, beautiful, and special. This work is only one part of my life, but it is a very important part, reflected directly in my marriage, my love, my relationships with other people and the beauty around me and around all of us.

What are your plans?

Simply to keep working. I love to make plans - it is how I run my life. However, with my photography, it takes me where it wants. In only get to follow.

What would you add?

I am so glad to have this opportunity to show my work in an environment that I feel is so directly reflective of a certain portion of my life. It feels so very natural, and as if this is exactly where I am meant to be.

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