Tag Archives: Ambrotype

Cool Photographer Eric Robinson gets Hotter by the Minute…

Eric Robinson. photo: Gay Highwaymen

Friend of this site Eric Robinson has been shooting us, and our friends for a couple of years now. Tintypes! Ambrotypes! Pics on metal and glass…way old school, 19th century-style. PDQ, he will be a “Master.” No, not like That! His MFA (Master of Fine Arts) show opens in August, and he is already showing all over like the worst exhibitionist ever. His ongoing Leathermen series is part of a larger archival project called Other Ways of Being. Robinson says of his work: “What I seek with my camera is the difference – visible difference – that allows us to identify or disassociate with groups, cultures or communities.” These are important cross-cultural concerns, and Robinson’s unique camera view points our brains at them. Leathermen has already shown three times nationally (Chicago, San Francisco and Vermont) and is BIG in Indonesia, where it is featured in the glossy mag, PhotoArt Contemporary. Cool. Keep watching, ’cause this fantastic old-school shutter-bug boy is going to be BIG. Well. If we have anything to do with it anyway…more here. Enjoy!

Eric Robinson’s “Leathermen” at QIY: Queer It Yourself – Big Gay Art Show

Eric Robinson and "Leathermen" at Las Manos Gallery in Chicago

Eric Robinson’s wet-plate ambrotypes will be showing as part of QIY: Queer It Yourself, which opens Saturday at SOMArts. The exhibit presents alternative, queer, do-it-yourself processes and projects, collaborations, zines, posters, green architecture, activist interventions and recuperations of low-tech media. Robinson took his 19th century kit (big awkard camera, portable darkroom, an array of chemicals, beakers and trays…) to the Dore “Up Your Alley” Fair in 2010, supplementing a series of portraits of Leathermen that he began the previous year. Images from that series will be on exhibit. More on Robinson here, here, here and here.

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Robinson at work making wet-plate ambrotypes. These one-of-a-kind photographs on glass were common during the mid 19th century. As it disappears into the digital realm, this work reminds us of the physical, chemical and optical origins of photography. At the same time, generic conventions suggest that “fetish” photography should be slick and polished, suitable for publication in magazines, and “straight” in the photographic sense. These images kick that cliche, their hand-hewn aesthetic underscoring the sense that we are looking into not only the history of photography, but that of Leather. Old Guard all around…

QIY is part of the National Queer Arts Festival. This year’s theme is A Sustainable Queer Planet. More on the festival here and more soon. QIY opens Saturday, June 4th with a reception from 1pm until 4pm. SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan at 8th St. in San Francisco. The gallery is tucked under the freeway, just to the east of the Trader Joe’s complex.

Three Generations of Leather: Wet Plate Ambrotype Photo by Eric Robinson

Leather Family: Three Generations. photo: Eric Robinson

We learn from our elders and teach the young. And sometimes vice-versa. As a community that has collectively lost so many and so much in the last three decades, it is more important than ever that we pass on our best traditions to the generations coming up. It is equally important that we incorporate the fresh energy and ideas of youth into our clubs, institutions, dungeons and families. Make no mistake about it: this is a family photograph. It is a scan of a wet-plate ambrotype, a singular photo on black glass, a 19th century process turned towards 21st century subject matter. Taken by Eric Robinson as part of a project in which he made portraits of Leather families in San Francisco. July, 2010. For more on Eric, click here and here.