On April 2, former pro snowboarder Ian Ruhter launched “Silver & Light,” a documentary of his most recent wet plate photography project.
“S&L” goes behind the scenes of Ruhter’s obsession with wet plate collodion photography and the lengths he’ll go to get the shot. Though the Tahoe-based lensman recently did a wet plate photo project with Foursquare, this new mini-doc doesn’t focus on his snowboard photography work. Here, he is making the film, the developer, the camera — all of it.
Ruhter’s voiceover divulges a sort of addict’s admission: “I’m so far down the path that I can’t go back even if I wanted to… I can’t stop; I’ve backed myself into a corner.” But the mixture being created before our eyes is the chemical cocktail required to develop your own wet plate photographs, which Ruhter does in the field. He’s addicted to the process, not the chemicals.
“This project isn’t about the actual photography, it’s about doing what you love,” explains Ruhter, 38. “I think that’s why people like it… We all want to do what we love or encourage [other] people to do so.”
That said, some of the photos produced by Ruhter and his team are stunning in their depth and originality. Even when things go wrong — and they do — it’s difficult not to admire the photographer’s commitment to a project that costs him over $500 per photo, whether the plates turn out or not.