Jake’s career began by focusing on the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He grew up spending his summers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where his time in the Teton Range, surrounded by jagged peaks and abundant wildlife, cultivated not only a love for nature at a very young age, but also the desire to share and preserve it. Even now, while he travels often to photograph and tell the stories of vulnerable wildlife around the world, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home. He works closely in collaboration with biologists from agencies such as USGS and NPS. His work on grizzly bears has been featured in various publications, including a recent book on Yellowstone grizzlies. Among Jake’s recent awards, his work has hung on the walls of the Smithsonian in the Exhibition of Nature's Best Photography. Information on his other work can be found at www.revealedinnature.com.
My hope is that all my work will serve to break the spell that in some measure rests on us all–that of a blasé disposition in regard to this astonishing and (at the risk of being misunderstood) magical world we call home. A place in many senses too beautiful to be real, except that it is. In a time where people are far removed from the rhythm and balance of the natural world, I strive to rekindle a connection with the wild through my work.
What are ambrotypes?
Ambrotypes are created from a process that dates back to the early 19 century. It’s known as wet the plate collodion method, and was the dominant form of photography from 1850 to 1860. The image is captured on a glass plate as a negative, but when it is displayed with a solid black backdrop, such as the velvet in this collection, it appears as a positive.
The Uniqueness of Wildlife Ambrotypes
Ambrotypes have traditionally been used for portraits or landscapes because the tedious process requires a perfectly still subject for a long exposure. For this reason, wildlife has never been seen on this medium before now. Producing this collection required developing an entirely new way to combine the in-field advantages of modern camera technology, with the slow and meticulous traditional dark-room process.
With the unpredictable nature and inevitable flaws of this process, Davis does not know how the image is going to turn out. The experience of creating each ambrotype is full of anticipation and curiosity. Even if he wanted to, Davis will never be able to replicate a plate. Each ambrotype is one of a kind. Distinguished by its own tone and perfect imperfections.
“For years I’ve wanted to put together a body of work that paid tribute to the unique presence that wildlife brings to the world while highlighting the delicate and fragile condition we find them in today.
When viewing an ambrotype you immediately think, “old, history, memories of what once was.” Viewing our iconic wildlife in this medium feels as if they, too, existed only in stories and imagery, as if they were already relegated to history. You can feel the sense of loss that would exist if these symbols of the wild no longer called it home.
The hope is that this impact will inspire this community and all who view them to continue making efforts to preserve this resilient yet fragile wilderness as the world around us races ever so quickly into the future. We don’t want future generations to learn about the wild through stories or imagery. They need to be able to experience it.”
Matt Beaty and Taylor Mahoney at Hidden Light LLC partnered with Jake Davis to make this dream a reality.
Media & Selected Press
Jackson Hole News & Guide - “Reimagining Western Icons”:
“Part of this is embracing imperfection,” Davis said. “There’s this sense of anticipation that you just don’t get with any other types of photography. When I load my photos in Lightroom, I know what they’re going to look like. ... With this your fingers are crossed and your heart’s racing. ... And the fact that you can’t go back and do it again, it’s frustrating, but it’s also what makes it really special.” That technique has never been implemented with wildlife photography. The evocative use of Civil War-era photography techniques makes Davis’ photos, already striking digitally, that much more powerful.