Greg Martin, a native Clevelander with a fine arts background, has used the wet-plate collodion photographic process for more than fifteen years. Martin’s interest in this 19th century process evolved from a fascination with post-industrial Cleveland’s cityscapes, and manifested itself in the series City Portraits, images printed on glass and metal. His current work further pushes the boundaries of this challenging medium, using it in ways that exploit its unique attributes, subtle nuances, and celebrating its sculptural qualities.
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“For Cleveland 20/20, I was thrilled to be using a photographic process that was at its peak in 1869, the year the Cleveland Public Library was founded. “Growing up in Cleveland in the 1970’s, my father would take my brother and I out every Saturday morning to explore various corners of the city, mainly the industrial Flats. These memories were top of mind as I ventured out with my camera and the 100 plus pounds of equipment and chemistry required to make these images. “The collodion process requires me to work very slowly, and immerse myself in the locations I am photographing. The images, all shot directly onto handcoated metal plates, are as much “sculpture” as they are “photograph”. When taking portraits, the act of photographing becomes truly a collaboration. My sitters were able to see the images develop in real time, as the term photography, or drawing with light, suggests. Setting up and shooting throughout the city I was not only able to document our amazing home, but also introduce a wide range of Clevelanders to a process they have never experienced. “My photographs give a new perspective on the city that I love, and I am deeply honored that they will live on in the CPL Archives.”