19th century photographer will capture memories at Caspar Collins Day

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - On Saturday, July 22, Caspar Collins Day will be celebrated at Fort Caspar. This year, a nationally recognized photographer using 19th-century techniques will be at the event.

Robert Szabo has been practicing wet plate collodion photography for 25 years. He got his start after meeting another photographer while at a Civil War reenactment.

“I used to be a Civil War reenactor and in some ways I still am. I don’t reenact with a rifle anymore I use a camera...I learned how to do wet plate photography and got rid of my musket, bought a camera, and I’ve been doing that kind of photography since,” said Szabo.

Wet plate collodion photography was invented in 1851 and was used for about 30 years. The technique uses a metal plate to develop a photo, and photos are developed right on the spot. Szabo brings his own miniature dark room with him to complete the process, and in about five minutes he can have a finished image.

Szabo has traveled across the US to teach and take photos using old technology. While he is traveling less now, he likes getting to share about the art form with anyone who’s interested.

“It means a lot to me, as far as having people enjoy what I’m doing and wanting to see how photography was done back then because people call it a lost art, but it’s really not, there’s a lot of young people getting into it and I’m really happy to see that,” said Szabo.

Caspar Collins Day is a free community event and will last from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Along with Szabo there will be living history demonstrations, children’s games, infantry and cavalry demonstrations, mountain men, frontier gambling, and vendors.

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