The Lifers Project

Matt Alberts is a photographer that was born in Philadelphia in the time when Love Park was the center of the skateboarding universe. His connection to the sport has stayed with him throughout his life, and remains a large influence on the photography that he pursues as a career today. Naturally, his affinity for skateboarding has translated into some pretty ambitious projects over the years. Much of his work has centered on capturing the essence of street skateboarding in the East Coast Skate Mecca’s of New York City and Philadelphia, where he has not only captured beautiful action shots, but also encapsulated a bit of the street “feel” that you get when cruising around the urban environment of each city.

His current project – “The Lifers Project” – is much more ambitious in scale, and deliberate in purpose. His subject is what he calls a “Lifer,” or in other words someone who is so enamored with skateboarding, they have dedicated their lives to the sport. Lifers are what Alberts describe as the “backbone of the skateboarding community.” His goal is to create an archive of handmade images that captures the person inside of each “Lifer” in an attempt to create a raw, visual understanding of who these people are and start to answer why they have dedicated so much of their lives to the community.

Fittingly, Alberts has chosen to use Wet Collodion as his method of capturing the heart and souls of these “Lifers.” Wet Collodion is an archaic method that uses a basic chemical reaction to create a wet plate that is exposed to light in an old-fashioned camera. The plate is hyper-sensitive to UV light, and requires a portable darkroom as it dries so fast that the photographer has to act quickly in order to develop the image.

So why go through all this trouble to photograph these lifetime skateboarders?

The notion is that through this method, one can really get under the skin of these people – figuratively and literally through the Wet Collodion process. There is no better way than to view these people, who are so unique in their passions and interests, than in their most raw and exposed form. Alberts is so dedicated to this idea that he has poured his life savings into traveling the country and documenting these “Lifers” and the places they inhabit. And because of the difficult nature of this photographic process, Alberts has purchased a 1973 Airstream Land Yacht to accompany him on his journey to act as a stand-in darkroom.

Check out the photos below of “The Lifers Project” and go to Alberts site to support his project.

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