La Chambre Photographique is unlike any other destination in Santa Barbara’s vibrant, artsy Funk Zone neighborhood. The shop and studio is the brainchild of Lindsey Ross, a fine art photographer who has longtime love for taking pictures old school developing techniques. Her wet plate collodion process creates raw, black-and-white images that play with shadow and evoke nostalgia.
For those who are interested in checking out these fascinating images, or sitting for a photo of their own, Le Chambre Photographique is most definitely your best bet in Santa Barbara. Ross offers portraits and commission works.
If you’re unfamiliar with the aesthetic or charm behind collodion photographs, it’s worth checking out some images and looking into how it all works. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the technique was one of the first widely utilized photographic processes following the groundbreaking Daguerreotype. It uses metal or glass as the base platform, which the developer dips into collodion—a liquid cotton used by Civil War surgeons. The glass or metal substrate is then coated in silver nitrate, and the two liquids combine to create a surface of light sensitive film. Photographers place the plate in the camera’s film holder and, with an onsite darkroom, develop an image on the plate shortly after taking the picture.
While the turnaround following a shoot is quick, the need for long exposure shots, in addition to the mixing of chemicals and such makes wet collodion a long, tedious and intensive process. The thought and time that goes into these images shows throughout La Chambre Photographique’s vast portfolio.
A unique piece of Santa Barbara culture, Ross and her business offer local art lovers and travelers a chance to see a photography process rarely seen in the 21st century. Take home a collodion image from Ross’s collection (or of you or a loved one) for a souvenir unlike any other.