This week’s Work of the Week is Man and Baby by E.J. Spiteri.
With cameras now at most people’s fingertips thanks to cell phones, it’s easy to forget that photography as a medium has been around for less than 200 years.
It was in 1839 (180 years ago) the daguerreotype process was made available to the public, which gave rise to a booming portrait industry. The daguerreotype was the most commonly used commercial process, but it was short lived. It was superseded by the collodion process in the late 1850s.
However, it was the silver gelatin process (like in our featured artwork) that really paved the way for modern photography.
Developed at the end of the 19th century, the process made it possible for photographers to make images that didn't need to be developed before they dried, meaning photographers could take several plates into the field, expose them, and then develop them later, even weeks later, in a darkroom. The bulky equipment of a portable darkroom was no longer required—photographers were able to wander more freely.
Eventually, the gelatin silver solution was applied to paper and film, instead of plates, making photography more accessible to more people.
About the Artist: E.J. Spiteri
E.J. Spiteri was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, where he still resides. He attended the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now the Alberta University of the Arts), graduating in 1966.
He has exhibited across the country, at the Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, the Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography, Toronto, the Centennial Art Gallery, Halifax, the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, and the Glenbow Art Gallery, Calgary, as well as many others.
His work has been featured in many publications, including Camera Canada, Leica Fotographie (German), and Canadian Photographer. Spiteri's work can be found in the collections of the National Film Board of Canada, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Glenbow Museum.