Eric Mertens is a California-based photographer with a focus on the Daguerreotype process.
After training as a laser technologist, he worked in a government laboratory before attending California College of the Arts (CCA). In his fourth year he developed a strong interest in large-format photography and alternative processes. After graduation he studied daguerreotypie under Mike Robinson in Toronto. His energy and obsession with the daguerreotype process have allowed him to endure the many difficulties that are associated with this early photographic process.
Committing to this 19th century photography technique, he creates one of a kind daguerreotype portraits and views that embrace the analog in a digital age. Often constructing his own darkroom equipment by hand, Mertens insists on the most labor-intensive of processes as a means to a beautiful end. His daguerreotypes feature stunning detail and quality, suggesting reality in the most subtle ways – a sharp contrast to the often hyper-real, mainstream digital photography of today.
The daguerreotype, by its nature, helps expose a sensitive and personal side of both artist and subject. The image is created on a sheet of highly polished silvered metal, which allows for incredible detail. The image clarity, gradations of light and shade, radiance of human quality, and mellowness of tone are all visible.
His current project involves creating daguerreotype panoramics of the demolition and construction of Oakland real estate. Using large 6.5×8.5 inch whole plate daguerreotypes aligned vertically together, Mertens is able to create wide landscape panoramics as they did in the 1850’s.
BFA, Photography, 2002 with distinction
California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California