Lisa Elmaleh

Location: Paw Paw, WV
Nationality: American
Biography: Lisa Elmaleh’s work is an exploration of rural America. Using a portable darkroom in the back of her truck, Elmaleh photographs using the nineteenth century wet plate collodion process. Elmaleh is a West Virginia based photographer and... read on
Public Story
Credits: lisa elmaleh
Updated: 06/23/17

The keys to my first car were a means of escape. I was free to drive to the ends of the earth, to be alone in nature. This need to be isolated in nature seemed a primal instinct. Since that first taste of freedom, I have taken solitary road trips, sought to lose myself along back roads, and found comfort in the ability to find myself lost. “It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable, experience to be lost in the woods any time,” wrote Thoreau, “…and not till we are completely lost, or turned round, - for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost,-do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature.”

For the series Rooted, I made images using the wet collodion process, a nineteenth century process that requires the image be exposed and developed on site. The collodion process renders light slowly, and reveals the passing of time. I took to the road with my 8x10 camera and a portable darkroom in search of familiarity in the unfamiliar landscape of rural America. I traveled from east to west, in the spirit of the original landscape photographers of the American west, but as a contemporary woman, with a vehicle, in the much impacted landscape of modern times. Each photograph engages the viewer in a dialogue between the equal and opposite elements in nature. The title Rooted is, in itself, a paradox. My pilgrimage uproots me, but I find myself grounded in the familiar strangeness of nature.


Also by Lisa Elmaleh —


Daily Self Portrait 2012-2013

By Lisa Elmaleh — In 2012, I felt the earth move beneath my feet where I did not choose to step.  I slipped into a..

Between the Divides (ongoing)

By Lisa Elmaleh

Lonesome Valley

By Lisa Elmaleh / Beatty, Navada — In 2010, I set out for the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada with my wet plate darkroom and a need to exist in..

American Folk

By Lisa Elmaleh / Appalachia — Since 2010, I have been creating tintypes of musicians who play traditional American folk music in and..


By Lisa Elmaleh — The Everglades is the only ecological system of its kind. In the dedication of Everglades National Park,..
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