Craig’s 20″ x 24″ Black Glass Ambrotype of master daguerreotypist Jerry Spagnoli
Craig Tuffin (born in Redcliffe, Australia in 1969) is a highly regarded artist and educator, living on the Tweed Coast in Northern New South Wales. With 27 years teaching experience, he can be found running workshops in and out of darkrooms in schools, universities, art institutions and his own private studio. In that time, he has had the unique opportunity to develop the only Australian State School “Historic Photographic Process” curriculum.
While studying to be a Science and Physical Education Teacher in 1990, Tuffin was introduced to photography. He subsequently worked as a freelance photographer for many years, until a head injury in 2006 inspired him to rethink his priorities and focus on his art.
Tuffin has worked tirelessly in his experimentation of 19th Century photographic techniques, concentrating on the very earliest methods that produce unique positive images, such as wet plate collodion and daguerreotypes. Rather than pursuing an overly romantic relationship with archaic methods, Tuffin is more concerned with the “medium meeting the message” by selectively using techniques that best translate each narrative.
Tuffin has won numerous awards for his work, is represented by GoldStreet Studios, Victoria and the Lebovic Gallery, Sydney. He is a consultant in 19th Century photographic methods for the Museum of Brisbane and regularly travels as a speaker at institutional events. Tuffin has exhibited his work nationally and internationally and can be found in numerous publications. His work is in the official collection of the National Gallery of Australia, as well as many other private and public collections around the world.
“In an era of accessible and prolific image capturing, it’s artists like Craig Tuffin whose work shines out from the pack. With a passion for daguerrotype and wet plate photographic methods; Tuffin’s evocative images at once capture the strength and frailty of the human spirit.”
Jolie Clifford – MOREGOLDCOAST
Daguerreotypes were the very first photographic process, where a silvered copper plate is sensitised and then exposed in-camera. The method of producing daguerreotypes was revealed to the world in 1839 by the famed inventor of the diorama, Louis Daguerre. The process of Wet Plate Collodion was published in 1851 by Fredrick Scott Archer and produces an image on glass, tin, aluminium (or other substrate), that has a timeless quality all of its own. These methods are both challenging and extremely rewarding, as the final image is as creative as the photographer and chemistry allow.
Craig explains, “Tintypes and ambrotypes are peculiar images viewed by light reflected off their metallic surface. Clusters of silver particles gather on sheets of glass and blackened aluminium, their size determined by the intensity of the light used to expose the delicate emulsion. Daguerreotypes are curious and delicate. By fuming the silver surface, a light sensitive layer is created that may be exposed and then developed with mercury. Unlike photographs created by more modern methods, these 19th century photographic methods produce curious, singular ‘image objects’ that often take on three-dimensions rather than two. Every artifact is a side effect of the materials and time needed to create the photographic event, and as such, is embraced as an intimate part of the work. As a result, the image is then afforded a unique characteristic…that of being unaltered. It becomes a truthful and enduring entity.”