Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2019 issue.
Kevin Banker is the cover photographer for our Winter + Spring 2019 SHINE issue.
Tell us about the style of photography that we’ve featured on the cover, and why you’ve decided to embrace this art.
The style of the image on the cover is called Wet Plate Collodion. It was started back in the 1800s and was one of the first forms of photography. It was widely used to capture portraits and quickly became the favorite format for studio photographers. The images created are shot on metal and glass plates, using a liquid film, so the images are very unique. One of the main reasons I have embraced this format of photography is because it requires patience, something I also found through my yoga practice.
With the photography industry quickly becoming a place of shooting 2000 images and hours and hours of editing afterwards, I found myself on the computer way more than out shooting. I started to become an assembly line for photos, timelines started to shrink, and the phrase “Can’t you just Photoshop it?” had become way too prevalent. That’s when I started to look for something that took me back to my roots. Something that required more pre-production and craft, as well as no editing after the image is captured, bringing back creating a photograph back to its truest form. About a year ago I discovered the kind of photography I was looking for. It combined both chemistry and art, two of my favorite subjects while I was in school. It’s amazing how it has brought me back to a more zen state while creating images. Its methodical and precise, with a beautiful variance to each photograph.
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to create one image. It’s such a unique and powerful process. Most people have never held a large format plate in their hands with an image on it made from a combination of silver and light. Some would even say its magical.
How did you use this style and the photo shoot to help bring the theme of SHINE into the cover?
The Wet Plate process is inherently dark, and it takes a lot of light to get a proper exposure with it. This is why in the past people would have to sit still for up to 30 seconds to create an image. I decided to use this to my advantage, while knowing that our model would have a darker skin tone, I chose to use high powered strobe lights to create the scene. I was able to shape the light with these photo strobes, and add a glow behind our model to pop her out of the background. I also used a lower front light to bring a shine from underneath. By lighting from behind, above, and under the model, we were able to bring quite the wonderful shine to our model.
What projects and career moves are you currently excited about?
The growth of this Wet Plate Collodion work is what I am currently most excited about. I’m working on making it both studio based, as well as allowing it to be mobile to create travel projects. With the length of time it takes to create these photos, I feel that when people experience this form of photography, it allows them to step away from the hustle a bustle of their daily lives, and get back to their true selves. Every plate created is one of a kind, because I can’t pour the same plate twice. Each photo is a one off which makes each photo that much more valuable. For more information please visit .
From spending almost 19 years behind the lens, Kevin Banker can’t be placed into one facet of photography. From architecture to aerials, food and fine art, his work can be seen with such luxury brands as Ritz Carlton and Vail Resorts. When he’s not out shooting for an architecture firm or a new restaurant, you can usually find him in his darkroom, mixing chemicals for Wet Plate Collodion photography. When not working behind the lens, he is most likely found camping with his girlfriend and dog or wrenching on his old Toyota FJ40. Check out more of his Wet Plate work at.