For his “Simple Song” project, Luo Dan employed the traditional collodion wet plate photographic process invented in 1850, spending several months traveling with a portable darkroom in remote and mountainous regions of China’s southern Yunnan Province. Looking to capture the purity of this photographic process, Luo Dan was able to reflect the authenticity found in rural life for many of China’s yet undeveloped regions, where the way of life has remained largely intact for hundreds of years. More than 100 years ago many of the villages in this region were influenced by early Christian missionaries, resulting in many of the local villagers becoming people of faith and devout churchgoers, often seen dressing up in their ethnic garments, or Sunday’s best. By bringing a reverence to both this antiquated photographic process and subject matter, Luo Dan’s “Simple Song” series is an effort to capture a sense of timelessness. An incredibly popular process in the mid-nineteenth century, wet plate collodion could render exquisite detail for photographers, but the laborious process of exposure and development also led to its decline towards the end of the century.
An acclaimed portrait and documentary photographer, Luo Dan has won numerous awards and recognition for his works “On the Road - Highway 318” (2006) and “North, South” (2008). Luo Dan was born in Chongqing, China, in 1968 and graduated from the Sichuan Fine Art Academy in 1992. He was given the Gold Award for Outstanding Artist at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival in 2008 for his body of work “North, South” (2008). This year he was recently awarded the Hou Dengke documentary photography prize, as well as voted best new photographer at the Dali International Photography Festival (2011). He currently lives and works in Chengdu, China.