Taking Wet Plate Portraits of Climate Change Activist Greta Thunberg

Taking Wet Plate Portraits of Climate Change Activist Greta Thunberg

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.

You can find more of Balkowitsch’s work on his websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Wet plate photos by Shane Balkowitsch. Behind-the-scenes photos by Chad Nodland, used with permission.

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Vladimir Vcelar's picture

LOL, wet paint creates more chemical waste; oh the irony!

Mike Kelley's picture

Yeah wet paint fumes are brutal especially the first few days after you paint your bedroom and have to sleep there

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

one arrow.....miss the target!

Gerald Bertram's picture

Wow...the comment section on PetaPixel for this article is just a cesspool of idiocy.

Carl Murray's picture

I find the comment section of Mose websites follow that trend, actually.

Ed Sanford's picture

What was the point?

Alex Herbert's picture

So she can look like a cowgirl?

D M's picture

She looks baked.

Indy Thomas's picture

She has worked harder for what she believes in than most people in the world.
You, on the other hand sit at a keyboard trying to look clever by picking on a kid with more guts than you will ever have.

Indy Thomas's picture

Her mom is an opera singer and her father is an actor.
You, on the other hand are a troll that believes conspiracy theories and the suppression of free speech.

She gave a speech at the UN that was articulate, inspiring and forceful.

Trump's speech barely qualified as English.
What did you talk about at the UN? I forget.

She got busy for what she believed in. She motivated millions.
You sit at the keyboard whining rather than debating.

The mark of the right these days is not reasoned debate but ad hominem arguments and invective.
The glaring problem is that fascism is indefensible.

JAY B's picture

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. What her parents and her "handlers" are doing to this young girl is tantamount to child abuse. The far left globalist socialists can't push through the climate change hoax since there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary so they decided to start using children to push their political agenda. Her speech at the UN was given to her by those pushing this fake "climate emergency." Disgusting and shameful. Don't forget, its the Socialist Party (formerly known as DemocraticParty), not the Republican, that has a long history of racism and fascism throughout US history. You can't get more fascist than Antifa (supported by Democrats) - the Brownshirts of the 21st century. The mark of the left these days is they are incapable of reasoned debate because they know they will lose every time. So they resort to name calling and running away and hiding.

Indy Thomas's picture

40+ years of actual science by tens of thousands of scientists coupled with the on-the-ground facts of coastal flooding (ask Florida) put the lie to climate change deniers.
I would note that you fall back on the right wing tropes of "Socialism" while having zero clue as to what it actually is.
Like Social Security?Medicare? Street repair? Interstate highways? Clean water and clean air? Yep all "Socialist" agendas.
Do not try to debate Socialism with anyone because you have been fed tripe by Fox and Breitbart. Real facts come from research, scholarship and study, not RW noise makers seemingly driven by a bizarre cabal of racists harnessed by Russian SM bots.
If you actually knew American history you would know that the Democrats of the South flipped to the GOP as they saw a common goal of white supremacy cloaked in the guise of "family values" and "fiscal responsibility".
I would further note that your fact-free response and resort to name calling is precisely what I noted about the right. Facts are absent but ad hominem are the only tools you seem to have.

I see that Trump's tissue of lies is dissolving before our eyes with the testimony of multiple people including his paid for ambassador Sondland.
Good luck with the fantasies.

Alex Herbert's picture

I remember when MOST people thought fascism was a bad thing... oh how standards have slipped.

Spy Black's picture

I know, who'd ever think Trump would be in office?

Robert Altman's picture

A hipster affectation- much like vinyl records... No reason you couldn't take these images with any DSLR and degrade them to look like old poor low res analogue images in post!

g coll's picture

A lot of people really enjoy the processes involved analog photography. Why would anyone take issue with this? What are you trying to justify, Robert?

Robert Altman's picture

I don't have an issue with the photographer personally enjoying the process - but in terms of the final image it is a 'long run for a short slide'- a lot of work to create a look that could easily be emulated digitally in a fraction of the time (and with much more flexibility). I came from the analog film world - it taught me a lot- but I would never go back personally.

The 'process' cannot be appreciated by the outside world- only the final result- these images have to succeed on their visual merits- not because of the convoluted process that was involved in their creation. Show me the results - the news should NOT be the technique involved IMHO.

Jean-francois LE GUEN's picture

And how much fuel all these journalists around have burnt to come ?

Inderjit Singh's picture

My phone takes better Pictures than this.

Ray K's picture

poor brainwashed kid... product of extinction rebellion ...

Fritz Asuro's picture

How dare you...

David Pavlich's picture

You can't blame these kids for their fears. There's adults feeding them this gloom and doom on a daily basis.

As to the photograph, someone else posted that this can be reproduced with a digital image. I agree and it can be done in about 10 minutes using Light Room and your favorite plugin.

Ray K's picture

its just photography, dude looking for exposure. on other had pic looks crap to be honest she looks bit creepy.

Colleen Johnson's picture

Great to see photographers that are keeping alternative photographic processes alive.

m k's picture

am i the only one seeing through her acting?

David Pavlich's picture

Here's a question someone needs to ask her; who decided that the climate as it is today is how it's supposed to be? Over the last couple million years, Mother Earth has been much colder and much warmer. The climate is dynamic and has been for its entirety and the thought that human kind can place a thermostat on this big rock is absurd.

m k's picture

exactly my point, i dont deny that there is a shift of the climate happening, but one thats totally normal and happened many times in the history of our mother earth.