A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.
What to expect from portrait session:
When having your portrait made in wet plate, patience is an absolute must. Typically portraits are made outside simply because the emulsion is far less sensitive to light than modern film. This offers up some unique possibilities that cannot be had in the studio. Exposure time will range from as little as 1.5 seconds to several seconds depending on available light, temperature, age of the chemistry, aperture, etc. A chair or head rest is a good idea, but standing portraits can and have been made with success. Also, there are no light meters! The operator (me) takes all of the variables at hand into consideration and makes an educated guess based on experience to derive the proper exposure. Sometimes it may take two or even three attempts to come up with a portrait that is satisfactory.
It should also be observed that the wet plate collodion process is primarily sensitive to blue and UV light. Typically blue colors come out very light and warm colors come out quite dark ( yellow will come out almost black). Keep this in mind when you dress for a portrait, otherwise you may be disappointed in how your clothing appears in the image.
This is a time to sit down, relax, discuss your passions, and enjoy the process. Think of it as photography spa time. You will have the opportunity to discuss how you would like to have your image struck and to watch your image come to life right before your eyes! This is also an opportunity to get a first hand glimpse of how photography was done during the mid 1800's.
A note of caution: For those who may be chemically sensitive, you should know that this is a bit of a smelly process ( another reason to do it outdoors). However, every attempt will be made to keep the smells away from the subject as much as possible. Please do let me know if you are sensitive.