Transform any digital photo into a genuine daguerreotype

by Sally J.

in * How to SHARE Your Photographs (and the stories behind them), Free Articles / Blog

Honestly, people — if this sort of delightful coincidence* keeps happening I’ll have no choice but to start thinking of the Internet as some kind of magic happy wish machine.

Remember my post about how to tell the difference between a daguerreotype and an ambrotype? I mused about how much I’d love to have a dag of a modern marvel like an ipod or the fabulous steampunk Neverwas Haul. If you visit the original post, you’ll see a comment from Mr. John Danforth, Modern Daguerreotypist.

And here’s the coolest part:

John Danforth loves to hand craft daguerreotypes for people based on existing photos they already have. John says high resolution color digital files work best. Many of his customers choose a favorite wedding photograph to be rendered as a beautiful keepsake.

How much does it cost? Well, considering the fact that each one is handmade it shouldn’t be a surprise that they aren’t cheap. A 4×5 inch daguerreotype will cost you $400, a whole plate (6.5×8.5″) will put you back $800-$1,200 depending on whether you want to frame it or have it in a custom leather case. All of John’s daguerreotypes are glazed with anti-reflective, ultra-clear museum glass.

Why Daguerreotypes? According to John, there are two main reasons. The first is the incredible detail you get using this process. Anyone lucky enough to have seen a dag knows exactly what he’s talking about. The other reason is close to my heart: Longevity.

Longevity is very important to me because I want our way of life to be recorded in an accurate and accessible manner for our descendants. Because of this belief, I find it necessary to work in a medium that has longevity that can be measured in centuries and millennia. Do you believe that anyone will know what to do with a CD-ROM full of JPEG files in 10,000 years? Could you play an Edison wax cylinder if I brought one over to your house today?


I contacted John and he’s willing to submit to some interview questions via email from yours truly. Contact me if there are any questions you’d like me to ask.

Other links of interest:
John Danforth’s website
John’s pages on
Daguerreotype of 9/11
vintage dags in pantufla’s flikr collection

*The other coincidence was when I mused about how cool it would be to dye photo prints with coffee. Turns out my friend’s brother does exactly that…with cyanotypes. And then Mark gave me his hauntingly beautiful hummingbirds print. (Many, many thanks, Mark.) See what I mean about magic happy wish machine?

[Photo Credit: That’s John in his studio, from a gallery about making dags on his website. I’m not sure who took the photo, but you can see the photographer’s feet. :-)]

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