They say nice women rarely make history... In the case of Lindsey Ross, aka The Alchemistress, I would beg to differ. She's clearly a woman who has forged her own path, but done so with great honor and homage to the processes of days passed. An historical wet-plate photographer, she's not afraid to get her hands dirty, but above all, Lindsey is a storyteller. Using meticulous care to capture a single moment with the perfect mix of stoicism and candid spontaneity. I had the pleasure of sitting with her, not only for a personal portrait, but to chat about the long line of trailblazing women before her, that helped craft her work.
Lindsey: My name is Lindsey Ross, I'm a photographer. I specialize in historical processes, particularly wet plate collodion process, which is a 19th century photographic process.
Nativen: What's your favorite stress-relieving hobby?
Lindsey: Oh, wow. I am an avid runner, so I do that almost every day, and then, I guess, if I'm not running, I really enjoy skiing. That is maybe the ultimate in stress relieving for me.
Nativen: Who's the woman who's inspired you most?
Lindsey: That's funny, I think that it's changed with every phase in my career, but probably over the course of my life, my aunt, who is an artist also, and a career illustrator for Hallmark.
She’s been there for 35 years, and she was the first one that I knew who really, her work was making art, and she's the first one that made me feel like that was a possibility.
Nativen: That’s good inspiration.
Three women you'd love to sit around the campfire with, dead or alive.
Lindsey: Oh my goodness, wow... Marsha Resnik is one of my favorite photographers of all time, and she was really in the mix of the underground Soho new wave movement, and I know she has really good stories, because I have met her, and I think she's amazing. So she's one person. Oh man, this is a really hard one. Susan Sontag, Deborah Turbeville… There's so many good ones, I know I'm not thinking of all the people that I want to.
Nativen: So words of wisdom, or maybe a nugget of advice that you'd give to anyone who's kind of looking to pursue their creative art?
Lindsey: I think that, one of the things that has been hard learned over the last ten or fifteen years, was learning to protect my time. Because every other field, there is structure to it, and as an independent artist, making your work, and going on a path that's not really clearly cut, there's a lot of risk of people borrowing your time, wanting to, I don't know, assert influence on how you do things. I just think that I've become really skeptical, and hyper independent about protecting my time, and my intentions with what I'm doing, and making sure that, even though I'm an artist, and I am looking for some type of security at times, whether it's someone who can help me with business, or someone who can help me with getting more work, it's like, in the end, you're your own best advocate.
Nativen: That's really good advice. If you could spend a day in someone else's jeans, who would it be?
Lindsey: Also a really hard question. I think, oh man. There’s so many directions I feel like I could go with. I think that it's never a bad idea to spend time in someone else's shoes who has a lot less resources than you do.
I feel like, if I could put myself in the place of someone who is an artist, but didn't have the privileges that I did growing up, whether it's getting a college education, or… I guess I would love to see how I would handle having to create my work with far fewer privileges than I have.
Nativen: Yeah, that's an interesting exercise. I love that.
So last question, three things you can't live without?
Lindsey: Let's see. I cannot live without spending time in nature, on a pretty regular basis. Not just for a week, twice a year. I need to spend time in nature every other day. That really recharges me.
I drink a lot of yerba mate, and that is kind of something that I definitely cannot live without. It's just something that, when I'm in my studio, I'm always drinking mate throughout the day, and having tea is this type of ritual that, if I'm stuck on something, I'm like, "Whatever, it's tea time, I'm gonna make some mate."
I think that being surrounded by lots of very thoughtful people that I could have good conversations with, about either work or life or whatever. Whether it's my boyfriend, who is a really good listener, and has a lot of really good perspective, or my friends. I guess I wouldn't be able to survive, at least it seems, without the support of a lot of people who look out for me.
Nativen: Yeah, I mean, we live in an interdependent world. It's basically impossible to have that sort of Jeremiah Johnson kind of reality.
Lindsey: I have the fantasy of that in my head, but it's totally not reality at all.
Interview by: Lily Hetzler
Photography by: Ashley Turner
This interview has been condensed & edited
all images copyright of Nativen