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Stillness in Time

Deborah Parkin

The Cat on the Bike     

Today we talk to Deborah about herself and her motivation behind her photography:

“The motivation behind my photography comes from my fascination with memory, childhood and my love of the photographic image. In my photography I have always been drawn to the theme of childhood, whether it has been recreating my own personal memories, or taking pictures of my children and recording their childhood.

“In my latest series ‘Stillness in Time’ I have wanted to capture a more introspective side of childhood by using the Wet Plate Collodion process, which includes children from outside of my family. Using this old Victorian process really slows down the photographic experience for both the sitter and the photographer. With exposure times ranging from around 3 to 30 seconds the child needs to be as still as possible, allowing a brief moment of stillness, something that doesn’t happen too often in our lives.

“The first image is a special portrait for me as Lucy had for years refused to have her photograph taken by anyone. However, seeing the magic of the wet plate process & her siblings getting their photograph taken she decided that she would like to try. She held still, without support for 5 seconds – she was amazing. With my dark tent set up in her garden I was praying that something would come out to show her – thankfully it did.

Dreaming of Mermaid     

“This portrait of my daughter was unusual in the sense it was taken in my studio with UV lights. For this she had to lie down and keep still for 30 seconds, a very long time for a child. As with all the portraits it is the child who tells me what they want to bring to the photo – with my daughter it is usually a flower.


“Taken in my back yard – with the dark tent set up in the dining room my son was lying out in the sun. He is more self conscious about himself than he used to be – so he closes his eyes and pretends I’m not there.

The Daydreamer     

“This again was taken in a garden (not mine). I had my dark tent set up in the garden and ten children eager to take part. We chose a quiet part of the garden. I love this child’s eyes – she is a beautiful, quiet child but also a child that can’t keep still – this was again a rare moment of her stillness.

“All of these are original Tintypes but are reproduced on Kodak Metallic paper as this is the closest I can get to replicate the Tintype and its 3 dimensional feel.

“I am about to have two books published by Galerie Vevais. The books are on my “September is the Cruellest Month” series and this series “Stillness in Time” – both of which will be edited by William Ropp, with an introduction by John Wood. It will include some original prints.

“I will also be having an exhibition in September and I started a project with a Glasgow School last week.”

Her work can be viewed at

  1. Salman says:

    This book took a long time to read, since it was exceptionally bonrig. Not to mention the constant typos and spelling errors all over the place (was this book even proof-read before press?? Sheesh! I eventually lost count.). The book doesn’t really tell you how to start a business. All it really is a book full of the author’s own photos along with countless interviews with other established photogs (mostly if not all Minneapolis-based) and some of their own photos. I read it all the way thru, hoping to find some insight on how to start my own business, but it never came. Just general things about the business itself and how people got in the photog business, and the authors own stories about hers. It seems to be more geared toward owning a studio since the author has 2 studios herself.

  2. Deborah Parkin says:

    thank you very much Angela – appreciate your kind words :)

  3. Deborah Parkin says:

    many thanks VC for your kind comment and for taking the time to go to my blog to understand my work/process etc.  It has taken a lot of work to learn and progress with the wet plate process & using it with children was an added but rewarding challenge ( Sally Mann didn't use this process with children;).  Anyway, I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment – it's very kind of you.

  4. VC says:

    This work is poignant and clearly represents how the maker wants us to feel.  The collodion process takes time, the photographer feels herself that the children's lives are moving too fast, so she has slowed this down with her tools. Must we mention every artist we take inspiration from in our artists statement? Did Sally Mann rhyme off her inspiration?  A quick look at the artists blog reveals this is hardly a fad but rather a growing project.

    Look beyond the aesthetic, it will open up a whole new world of meaning.

  5. Deborah Parkin says:

    hello Image Maker – thank you for your honest comment and I will not read it as an attack and in the spirit of you giving me advice.  I would say that the people who have influenced me the most are William Ropp and Julia Margaret Cameron.  I will always be compared to Sally Mann and a lesser one at that.   I was invited here and answered questions given to me – hence I hadn't thought of saying who influenced me.  I am happy with my work – I don't do it for fame or fortune – I do it because I love to do it.  The nice thing is we can chose to like it or not – it doesn't really matter.  I am absolutely fine that you don't like it and definitely no hard feelings.  

    In the meantime, many thanks to Angela.

  6. Image Maker says:

    I'm sorry, but the technique has taken precedence over the art and I have to say the art is little more than Sally Mann-lite. I'm sure the photographer would be the first to admit that this is an appropriated vision.

    I mean no disrespect, but I hope the photographer is able to find her own voice. Her work will only be praised by the uninformed and the easily pleased otherwise (a la, Flickr) and every artist, whether they admit it or not, wants universal recognition. I'm no snob – if the work was presented as pastiche, there wouldn't be a problem, but in such a lengthy artistic statement, I was surprised not to see Sally Mann mentioned – to whom these images owe a great deal.

    I say these things for the good of the artist's development and the awareness of the viewer. Please don't read this as an attack.

  7. AngelaWB says:

    Quite otherworldly, lovely.