Classical photograph

A photograph is often defined as a picture of a thing that can be seen, and so it is, but my work represents a microcosm of an imagined universe; an internal image which is different to the thing which can be seen, and can only ever be realized once. I have researched many methods and techniques from the dawn of photography, specializing in the end in wet collodion process onto a glass plate; then printing on Japanese 'washi' paper and applying pure gold leaf. The work is always one-off and handmade, so the results are unpredictable, unique and original.


News / Event

View more

Classical photograph

若林 久未来Wakabayashi KumikoPhotographer

Classical Photograph

Modern trends in photography have moved away from optical-chemical film photographs towards digital images. The advantage to this is that the images can be captured easily and instantly and rather than as a memory or record, then stored safely on computer, with little need to print onto paper.
But before digital photography became the primary means of production, photography was a medium of imagination and excitement. The very uncertainty of the outcome - from the revealing of the latent image, to the printing - made the revelation exciting. Often, the finished print was not what the photographer had intended, but it was this uncertainty that led to the uniqueness of each image.

I wished to challenge the stereotype that developing and printing of photographs is a mechanical and reproducible means of production. I studied classical methods of photography at Osaka University of Arts, and I was overwhelmed upon encountering the method of producing photographs one by one, even using printing paper one had made oneself. My ongoing dream is to share with people my excitement at what I learned about these methods, now considered obsolete and in danger of extinction. But because my own work is an original process in its own right, Classical photograph has been registered as a trademark (Trademark Application # 2017-172889).
My research into many and varied aspects of classical photography and techniques is ongoing, and my aim is to devote myself to producing of unique and one-off photographs as well as endeavor to spread classical printing throughout the world.


「Beautiful Ms.清月」

“Beautiful Ms. Seigetsu” Grand Prix Award,
“Ashiya Photo Exhibition
-Road to Paris-” in 2014

Chief Priestess Ms. Seigetsu entered the Buddhist priesthood at the age of 14, and never wore makeup or cosmetics. When I had this chance to take her photography, I begged her to experiment with lipstick, aiming to capture her pure and charming expression.
Compare it to her dignified appearance as she carries out her duties: both are amazingly beautiful.

「銀婚式」 硝子湿板

“Silver Wedding Anniversary”
Selected for2018 SALON D'AUTOMNE

A couple celebrates their 25th wedding anniversary, toasting each other but talking with a mask on; their true natures concealed. All the fruits and flowers are in a state of decay, except for a fresh lemon – it tastes bitter when you bite. This still life represents the evanescent or fragility of a couple married for many years.


What is a Van Dyke Print?

Van Dyke Print is a technique named for Anthony van Dyke the 17th century court painter. It is characterized by its sepia tone, which is called Van Dyke Brown. In my work, I use Japanese ‘washi’ paper as a printing medium, and everything is processed by hand. Because of the hand-processing, the brush marks are never the same, and no two prints are identical. This results in a unique art object.

As a final procedure, I attach pure gold leaf to the finished print, further increasing its uniqueness and originality.

“Sweet ~ Bitter”
Processed by Kumiko Wakabayashi with handmade Van Dyke Brown Print

Collodion Wet Plate Process

Collodion Wet Plate is a photographic process invented in England in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer.
The process involves saturating iodide compounds with collodion, producing a silver nitrate emulsion. The emulsion is poured onto the surface of the plate, which is then ready to be used to make an exposure. Unlike modern panchromatic negative films, the wet collodion process is sensitive only to light in the blue/indigo/violet part of spectrum; the photographer can use this limitation to make surprising images.
There is no way to pre-prepare a collodion wet plate; nor any way to store it in between exposure and processing. This means that the plate must be prepared, exposed and processed in about a ten-minute time frame. The image is developed with iron-1 sulfate, and finalized with sodium thiosulfate to make a negative. This means that many positive prints can be made in a variety of ways: using modern polyester paper or, as we do here, onto hand-made fiber paper.
This process was used to make the very famous prints of Ryoma Sakamoto leaning on a table, and Theodore Roosevelt.

"Fantasy" processed by Kumiko Wakabayashi with collodion wet plate


若林 久未来Kumiko WakabayashiPhotographer

Born in Osaka

Studied classical photography at Photography Department of Osaka University of Arts

I have mounted many exhibitions, attended workshops and answered invitations to exhibit my work in Seoul, Paris and Yekaterinburg (For details, please go to News/Event.). Also managed a rental space and gallery called Park-front Space Iroha in Osaka, Japan


Won Graduation Production Award, Photography Department, Osaka University of Arts
Won Grand Prix Award, “1st Ashiya Photo Exhibition -Road to Paris-”, Ashiya Photo Association
Won MIG Art Award, MI gallery, Osaka
Selected artist, 2018 SALOND'AUTOMNE, Paris

News / Event

View more