Collodion Workshop at Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër, Albania

End of October, I had the possibility to hold a collodion workshop at Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër, located in the north of Albania and hold a two day workshop about the collodion wetplate process. The city has a 2400 years history being located at three rivers that made trade very important.

collodion workshop marubi museum Maximilian Zeitler nassplatte berlin albanien shkodra
Lookout from the old fort to the south

In its heart, the National Museum of Marubi was founded in 2016 after being a municipal archive for quite a long time.

collodion workshop marubi museum Maximilian Zeitler nassplatte berlin albanien shkodra
the city of Shkodër with the albanian alps in the back

Marubi National Museum of Photography

The history of photography in Albania dates back until the 1860ies, when the Italian Pietro Marubi founded his first studio called “Dritëshkroja” (Written with Light). At this time during the Ottoman rule, he used the collodion wetplate process to create glass negatives. From those negatives, contact prints would then be sold to his customers, making the studio commercially a great success. 

Having to children, he transferred his business after his death to his gardeners Rrok Kodheli sons: Mati Kodheli & Kel Kodheli. Mati died at a very young age and Kel learned the processes of photography in Trieste at the studio “Sebastianutti & Benque“. Later, Kel named himself Kel of Marubi or Kel Marubi to honor Pietro. 

Now, after the last of the Marubi dynasty gifted all negatives to the state, the archive holds over 500.000 negatives: one of the richest collections in Europe. With its director Luçjan Bedeni, the Museum is now preserving the heritage of Albanian and European Photography.

The Marubi Archive

For me, the earliest glass negatives (over 80.000 pieces) were of great interest when I visited the Museum. Having some experience how collodion negatives look like, I could identify what techniques Pietro Marubi used for his Photography. Many of the glass negatives are in the format 13x18cm, some also in a stereo format and the biggest ones have 30x40cm in size.

collodion workshop marubi museum Maximilian Zeitler nassplatte berlin
collodion workshop marubi museum Maximilian Zeitler nassplatte berlin

The most interesting negatives that I could see was part of a 9 piece landscape of the city of Skhodër, each negative 21x27cm.

As you can see, the sky is blacked out with a paper – a typical practice. Being sensitive to blue light (you can read more info about the sensitivity of collodion wetplates here), the sky would be very bright in the final print. Some photographers blacked out the sky to then either paint clouds in the sky or even make clouds-only negatives that would be printed in a second step.

Collodion Workshop at Marubi Museum

After a busy day in the archive, I held a talk about my wetplate practice and general early photographic processes. Since there is a strong heritage towards photography in Albania, media was present and I had my first TV interview after the talk.

The two-day masterclass workshop

Five photographers and artists from Albania and Kosovo were invited to learn the secrets of wetplate collodion. The venue was quite nice in the Art House near the museum.

The materials were provided by Camera Obscura Photography and worked like a charm.

What’s coming next?

Since the time was a great success for all participants, we might plan another workshop next year in spring.

If you are interested in participating in a collodion workshop: I am planning the next workshop in 2024 in my studio in Berlin.