Chris Hannah

Wet Plate Photography Makes Tattoos Disappear

Michael Zhang, writing for PetaPixel:

Here’s something you may not have known about the 1800s wet plate collodion photography process: it can make certain tattoos disappear in photos. It’s a curious phenomenon that photographer Michael Bradley used for his portrait project Puaki.

“The idea was first sparked when I saw some wet plate collodion images from photographers around the world who had shot people with tattoos,” Bradley tells PetaPixel. “I had been shooting on the wet plate collodion method for a few months and was looking for a long-term project when I saw these images of people with tattoo’s and noticed that some faded away depending on the color of that tattoo.

“I noticed that the green/blue shades looked like they were most likely to disappear, especially on someone with slightly darker skin, and this sparked the idea.”

— Michael Zhang, Wet Plate Photography Makes Tattoos Disappear

Michael Bradley produced some incredible photos, and the comparisons are astounding. The tattoos disappear as if by magic, all because the wet colldion process is sensitive to only blue and ultraviolet light.

Cover Photo: Gary Shane Te Ruki © Michael Bradley