Salted Paper Print Portraits

Salted paper print portraits are available at the Hillsdale County Farmers Market as a “Street Portrait”; they can also be purchased as a “Slow Exposure” portrait session.

The first step in making a salted paper print portrait is to create a 4×5″ negative using a vintage view camera.   Once processed, the negative looks something like this…

Photograph of a 4×5 negative stored in a protective plastic sleeve.

The 4×5 film is then used to make a salted paper print.  Salt prints are an historic photographic process invented by Henry Fox Talbot and used commercially in 1840.  Salt print paper is hand coated twice; once with a salt solution and again with a silver nitrate solution.  After the paper is dried the negative is placed on top of it inside a special contact printing frame and it is all placed outside in the sun for printing.  The ultra violet light from the sun reacts with the silver nitrate turning it dark.  The areas that are most transparent in the negative are exposed to the greatest amount of light and are the darkest areas in the print.

Salt prints are difficult to photograph in a way that truly captures their unique beauty, but here is an example of a salted paper print portrait made from the negative shown above…

This is a digital photograph of a salted paper print. It gets the idea across that this is a very unique process, but nothing compares to seeing them in person.

In addition to the salt prints, I also create digital scans of the 4×5 negatives used to make the salt prints.  The scanned images are included in the Slow Exposure sessions as one more way to share with family and friends.

Digital scan of the original 4×5 negative; it’s included with the Slow Exposure portrait session.