Oahu photographer looks to the past to capture stunning portraits for today

Oahu photographer looks to the past to capture stunning portraits for today

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kailua photographer Kenyatta Kelechi employs a throwback method to take pictures. Like, really throwback.

It’s called wet plate photography and it was developed in the mid-19th century.

"I mainly do it because I enjoy the process of it all and seeing it go from a transparent piece of glass into an image," he said.

The images are called ambrotype. His pictures come out looking old-fashioned.

"Amazing is a word that I hear a lot," he said.

When it was invented, the wet collodion process enabled photographers to produce more detailed images.

Kelechi's work is definitely retro.

"It has a unique look, definitely. You can see the flaws on the plate that reveal that it's an analog process," he said.

He first dabbled in wet plate photography in 2015. He bought a kit and a camera and learned by trial and error.

"You have to load the film, expose it, process it, print it. There's a little bit more hands on," he said.

The toughest part is cleaning the glass. It has to be spotless and free of dust and smudges. Then It’s coated with collodion. The chemical bonds with silver nitrate.

“After that it becomes light sensitive,” Kelechi said.

Capturing an image must be done quickly because collodion dries fast.

"It's mainly just the lens that does all the work with this type of photography because there's no computer involved," he said.

Kelechi develops the glass plate right after he takes a photograph. That's when his pictures come to life with serious expressions and a grainy, old-school look.

"I prefer no smiles," he said. "It comes across as more genuine."

Kelechi opened his photography business in November.

“My main goal for getting into this is to make pictures of native Hawaiian practitioners,” he said.

To find out more about Kelechi’s work, click here.

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