There’s something about a great photograph. It captures the beauty of the object in a way that other art forms may not. Black and white—or even sepia—photos give them a vintage quality that many people (including myself) love. But the ultimate in vintage photography is the daguerreotype. Dating as far back as 1839, it is the earliest form of photography, NPR reports.
Photographer Jerry Spagnoli has been adapting this form of photography into the digital age. Beginning in 2000, when he met author, plant conservationist and gardener Amy Goldman, Spagnoli’s daguerreotype project became farm-inspired. He was asked informally to take pictures of the heirloom fruits and vegetables on Goldman’s farm. That project lasted 15 years and resulted in a book called Heirloom Harvest: Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures. It features 175 images.
Of the project, Spagnoli told NPR that heirlooms “have always been grown in the ground and usually with a lot of care and attention. I think that these foodstuffs deserve respect, and respect for their integrity… As a subject matter, these plants are very interesting, and I had always been interested in plant structures just for my own amusement. This gave me the opportunity to really do a comprehensive project. I thought that was very exciting. And they did render beautifully.”
Indeed, they did.