Salt and silver - book review: Extraordinary images from the first 20 years of photography


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The Independent Culture

Salt prints are the very first photographs on paper that still exist today.

Made in the first 20 years of photography (1840-1860), they are the results of esoteric knowledge and skill. Individual, sometimes unpredictable, and ultimately magical, the chemical capacity to “fix a shadow” on light-sensitive paper, coated in silver salts, was believed to be a kind of alchemy, where nature drew its own picture.

Salt and Silver, published to coincide with an exhibition at Tate Britain, brings together more than 100 plates drawn from the Wilson Centre for Photography, accompanied by two roundtable discussions with curators, academics, historians, and collectors. The book includes many of the greatest works of the period, by some of the most gifted pioneers of photography.