Dan Estabrook: from punk-rock to historical photographic processes

Dan Estabrook is famous American artist, who is making photographs with historical techniques such as calotypes. The Calotype Society XXI is telling about his works.

About discovering photography

He was born in 1969 and raised in Boston, where he studied art at city schools and the Museum of Fine Arts. He discovered photography in his teens through the underground magazines of the punk-rock and skateboarding cultures of the 1980’s. Therefore since his youth he was thinking to learn photographic processes.

Dan Estabrook
American artist, photographer Dan Estabrook, photo taken from /
a man with atop hat, calotype and salted paper print
Photos from project “Pathetica”. Left photo is calotype (negative), right one is salted print (positive). Photo from

Studying alternative photographic processes

As an undergraduate at Harvard Dan Estabrook began studying alternative photographic processes with Christopher James. In 1993, after receiving an MFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Dan continued working and teaching in Illinois, Boston, and Florida, eventually settling in Brooklyn, New York.

Glass, rope, calotype and salted paper print, still life
Still Life, 2005. Waxed Calotype negative with pencil, and salt print. 8″ x 10″ each, ©Dan Estabrook

Contemporary art with historic processes

Dan has continued to make contemporary art using the photographic techniques and processes of the nineteenth century, with forays into sculpture, painting, drawing and other works on paper. He has exhibited widely and has received several awards, including an Artist’s Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1994. There were an important exhibitions in 2003 “Pathetica and Other Stories,” in the Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GA and in 2005 “Dan Estabrook: Sleep and Nine Symptoms,” in the Catherine Edelman Gallery. A documentary on Dan and his work was produced in 2009 for  Anthropy Arts’ Photographers Series. He is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago.

blindfolded man, calotype and salted print
Estabrook’s photo from project “Night&day”. Left photo is calotype (negative), right one is salted print (positive). ©Dan Estabrook

Dan Estabrook lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Head of the lady, blindness, calotype and salt print
Blindness, 2005. Waxed Calotype negative with bleach and pencil, and salt print. 10″ x 8″ each, ©Dan Estabrook