A photographer had a 20-minute photo session with 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, during which he produced these wet-plate portraits. As her schedule was tight, the photographer took his portable darkroom setup to the field and shot the images during Thunberg’s appearance at Standing Rock.
She’s becoming increasingly noted for her passionate speeches and effort in campaigning for world leaders to pay greater attention to the effects of climate change. Particularly, it was her empowering speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last month that circulated across media outlets worldwide. And upon hearing that she had a visit planned, photographer Shane Balkowitsch jumped at the opportunity to take her picture. He was at Standing Rock Indian Reservation himself to shoot portraits of Native Americans for his project “Northern Plains Native Americans: A Modern Wet Plate Perspective.”
Speaking to PetaPixel, he said:
I reached out to my friends down there and wanted to see if she could come to my studio. Her schedule was too tight for a trip to Bismarck, so I offered to take my portable darkroom and chemicals and gear to Standing Rock, [saying]: ‘if I can get 15 minutes, we could immortalize Greta in the historic photographic process of silver on glass’ — this picture would outlast all other photographs ever taken of her or will ever be taken of her. I got the word Monday afternoon that I could have 15 minutes of her time if I traveled to the reservation and took her portrait, so that is what I did.
Pressed for time, Balkowitsch asked Thunberg’s father if he could take a second portrait, to which he obliged. Here are the results.
Wet plate photos by Shane Balkowitsch. Behind-the-scenes photos by Chad Nodland, used with permission.