THE LIFERS PROJECT
A SHORT DOCUMENTARY
BY JORDYN ROMERO
Matt Alberts, a skateboarder and photographer, discovers a 1850 CC Harrison lens that he believes belonged to his fourth great-grandfather, a pioneer of the wet collodion photography process in the early 19th century. Inspired by his family legacy and his own experiences as a skateboarder, Matt embarks on a project to capture portraits of fellow Lifers, revealing the true essence of his subjects beyond societal labels and preconceptions.
Matt Alberts has spent over a decade capturing people’s souls. Based out of a 28-foot airstream and mobile darkroom that attaches to the back of his truck, the photographer uses the wet plate collodion process to create portraits that are charged with emotion and reveal the true essence of his subjects.
Matt’s passion for photography started around the same time he discovered skating. When he was arrested for skating to work at age 13 in a town where skating was illegal, it became a defining moment that shaped his purpose behind the camera.
Matt came across the wet collodion process in 2011. The technique produces images by rendering silver nitrate to the plate, delivering a final product that is both ghastly and striking in its emotional depth. The camera’s sensitivity to UV light captures images that lie beneath the skin — tattoos rarely show up on the plate – and is said to reveal a person's soul and character.
Matt realized that tintype photography was the perfect medium for capturing Lifers - individuals who are deeply passionate about what they do. The LIFERS project captures the images of people who have dedicated their lives to their passion and the lifestyle that comes along with it.
Matt’s fourth great grandfather, F.A. Gilmore, and his son, Lowell Gilmore, were wet collodion photographers in the early 19th century in Binghamton, New York. They were pioneers of the process, taking more than 30,000 photographs a year. To this day, Alberts has nearly 100 of his fourth great grandfather's photographs. Matt's connection to his family's legacy extends beyond just the photographs themselves. He shoots with a bronze CC Harrison lens from 1852 that he believes was his ancestor's. By using this vintage equipment and carrying on the family tradition of wet plate collodion photography, Matt is continuing a legacy that began over a century ago.
His work is a tribute to his family's legacy and a continuation of it, connecting the past and present through his craft, and highlights the importance of seeing people for who they truly are, not just what they appear to be.
1826. The first permanent photograph was produced by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a process called heliography. However, the process was slow and required a long exposure time.
1839. Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype, which produced highly detailed images using a polished silver-coated copper plate. The daguerreotype was the first widely used photographic process and quickly became popular. However, the process was expensive, time-consuming, and it required the photographer to have a license to practice.
1850. The wet plate collodion process was developed, which used a glass plate coated with a thin layer of collodion and then dipped in silver nitrate. The plate was then exposed and developed, producing a negative image that could be used to create multiple prints
1856. The ferrotype, or tintype, was introduced. This process used a thin sheet of iron coated with a black enamel to create a durable, lightweight image. The ferrotype became popular for portraiture, particularly during the Civil War era.
The tintype was eventually replaced by newer photographic processes, but it played an important role in the development of photography. It was one of the first affordable and accessible forms of photography, allowing people of all backgrounds to have their portraits taken.
Matt's work serves as a bridge between the past and present, honoring his family's rich connection with the history of photography and showcasing his talent as a modern-day tintype photographer.
Shot on 35mm film, the visual style of the film will be characterized by its rich, warm tones and unique texture, adding a nostalgic quality to the storytelling.
The film will use stylized abstract recreations to transport the audience back in time and connect to the story of Matt Alberts' family legacy. These recreations will capture the spirit of the different eras of photography that the film covers and will help to visually convey the evolution of the art form.
Every morning before a shoot, Matt blasts "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac out of his airstream. We'll find a way to license that song.
Pre-Production - Spring 2023
Production - Summer 23 - Spring 2024
Post-Production - Spring 2024
Film Finished - Summer 2024
Film Festival Circuit and events - 2024/2025
Film Digital Release - 2025
Jordyn is an award-winning filmmaker challenging and changing the norm to make films that matter.
Hailing from the Rocky Mountains of Santa Fe, Jordyn's upbringing immersed her in the wonders of the wilderness, igniting her deep love for the outdoors. Armed with a BFA in documentary filmmaking from Chapman University, she embarked on a journey that has led her to produce work around the world. Her films are a testament to her unwavering commitment to crafting character-driven narratives that inspire, empower, and foster a sense of belonging for every viewer. With an unwavering belief in the transformative power of storytelling, Jordyn Romero continues to breathe life into her stories, amplifying voices that need to be heard and creating a cinematic tapestry that resonates with audiences worldwide.
In her acclaimed film, We Are Like Waves, Jordyn tells the story of one of the first female surfers in Sri Lanka. The film's distribution with The LA Times Short Docs, full theatrical run, qualification for the 95th Academy Awards, and multiple festival awards demonstrate the impact of her storytelling prowess.