Materials & Techniques

Gelatin silver print

The primary black-and-white process since the late 1880s, gelatin silver prints involve three layers: paper, baryta, and gelatin. The paper is prepared with a layer of baryta, or barium sulfate. The gelatin layer is an emulsion of light-sensitive silver compounds that captures the image after the exposure and development of the negative. Gelatin silver prints are characterized by a smooth and even surface.

Excerpt from

Gallery text from Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty as drawn from the Irving Penn Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Web Resources

  • Victoria and Albert Museum
    Explore different photographic techniques through the V&A;'s glossary of photographic processes.

  • George Eastman House
    Watch an overview of the development of gelatin silver printing and the way it changed the role of photography.