Daguerreotypes PDF
Written by Carlos Darío Albornoz   


Traditional arts and crafts in extinction

Tucumán, Argentina – 2004


Installation of contemporary daguerreotypes


This work was funded by a grant from the Simon Guggenheim Foundation that I was awarded in 2004.


These are 14 daguerreotypes of 9 x 12 cm. mounted on lighted wooden artifacts.


These are portraits of craftsmen that still practice trades that are on the verge of extinction due to new technologies and new ways of marketing. It has been a long process of losing old knowledge and traditional tools. These formerly common activities are increasingly disappearing.


Some of these characters are the only remaining practitioners of their trade, like the photographer of the plaza or the milkman, who have been driven out of business by the growing demand or the death of the tradesmen themselves.


Milkman © Carlos Darío Albornoz


Are these portraits a response to my own disappearance as a daguerreotype photographer? Is using this old technique a symbol of the struggle for an almost extinguished photographic tradition? I ask myself those questions. I must state that this is not about confronting the new technologies, but about accepting them. It is about integrating an old process to the modern ways of photographic expression.


Street Photographer © Carlos Darío Albornoz



These portraits feature men that posses techniques that are known to few and are directed to a market that has almost vanished. Each daguerreotype is unique and cannot be copied many times except when there is a negative or a digital back up; each one is homage to a disappearing breed. These photos are not a cold record of a curiosity but the portraits of living men, who are proud of their trade, even if they are not aware of the historical importance of their work, we can be. I need to participate of their time and space.


Peanut vendor © Carlos Darío Albornoz


This work is not complete as an anthropological record or even pretended it to be. My intention never was to pry into the lives of these people, but to experience and to witness the passing of time, their struggle for survival and the energy they transmitted to me.



Carlos Darío Albornoz

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May 2005

Tucumán, Argentina




Carlos Darío Albornoz was born in Tucumán in 1956. He still lives in this province where he works as the Science Photographer for Universidad Nacional de Tucumán and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.

He is the president of Fundación CeCAAF, an institution devoted to the preservation and development of photography related knowledge.

He also is the director of the advertising photographic studio Luz Mala. He has specialized in research and development of ancient photographic techniques, which he uses in most of his personal work, but he also does research related to the digital capture of the images he usually works with. He received the Simon Guggenheim Grant for 2004-2005 which he used for the work exhibited here.

His latest shows include the Junio de Xalapa festival in Mexico in 2006, the 14th festival de la Luz in Buenos Aires and the 2nd Photojournalism Biennale of Tucumán. He is constantly teaching courses, workshops and seminars of Ancient Photography, Preservation and History of Photography in Peru, Mexico and Argentina.






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