Head Brace for Wet Plate and Daguerreotype Portraits

   Introducing - consistently produced, reliable and affordable HEAD BRACES for discriminating portrait photographers who use slow emulsion processes for their portraiture and want to achieve best results every time.

  Anyone who has done portraits with wet plate or daguerreotype technique knows that long exposures and razor thin depth of field make it very difficult to have a sitter's face appear in focus and with no motion blur.  People are not statues and you can't blame them for moving ever so slightly during a 3-20 second wet plate exposure, and for daguerreotypes exposures can run into minutes!  Some people are much better at holding perfectly still than others, but even if they hold still during the actual exposure, just a little swaying forward or back while the photographer loads the camera will make the part of the face intended to be in focus not critically sharp...  It's a constant battle and it is for this exact reason that a head brace has been invented in mid-1800s and they were used by every portrait photographer well into the 20th century.

  Historically every photo studio had about half a dozen of these head brace devices, so when they had a family show up for a group portrait every person would have one in the back of their head.  To operate them you simply pose the person being photographed (sitting or standing) then adjust this brace to the the correct height and place the fork on the end of the beam to be pressed against the sitter's head just behind the ears.  The person being photograph simply slightly leans into it and thus remains perfectly in place between the time it takes to focus the camera and load the plate for exposure and, of course, during the exposure itself.

  Back in 1800s there was a multitude of manufacturers producing these braces, but today only one person that I know of makes a very limited number of exact reproductions of these in United States.  He makes them at inconsistent time intervals and sometimes the wait can extend into many months.  That is why I found a manufacturer in Eastern Europe and in partnership with them designed these wonderful braces that cost 30% less than their only competition (even including worldwide shipping!) are always in stock and are made of best modern materials.

  Our head braces are made of solid steel and powder coated with attractive and classic black paint they will make a perfect and very useful addition to any portrait studio.  They are HEAVY - but that's the point, the sitter is supposed to be able to lean into them without them moving or tipping over. They are smooth in operation and require no maintenance in order to last a lifetime.

  OPERATION - I recommend placing the longer of the three base legs pointing away from the sitter. Pose your subject, place the brace about 2 feet behind them so it will be hidden from camera's view by the body, adjust the height of the central shaft and secure that.  Loosen the T-bar adjustment knob, bring the fork to within half an inch from the back of your subject's head and tighten the T-bar knob.  Adjust the fork width as needed (that won't be needed much as most people's heads are about the same size, so unless you're photographing children you will rarely need to adjust that part) and have your subject lean their head back into the fork.  Compose, load the camera and make your exposure without the fear of your sitter moving out of the plane of focus or moving during exposure.
  These braces can also be quickly taken apart for ease of transportation.

Central shaft adjusts up and down
NOTE - as of August 2016 the ends of forks on our braces have a NEW DESIGN
As pictures above (and in the last photo below) the ends are now flatter and more
like the ones used in historic braces - they have lower profile, making them easier to
hide form camera and also they make more comfortable contact with sitter's head.  

T-bar adjusts in angle and slides via same control

Central shaft height adjustment control

Sturdy and stylish solid steel base

Adjustable fork for any head size

  Weight - 33lbs (15.2kg) (most of the weight concentrated in the base for maximum stability)
  Minimum working height - 36in (92cm) (central shaft collapsed and T-bar horizontal)
  Maximum working height - over 90in (202cm) (central shaft raised and T-bar tilted up)

  Please allow 20-30 days for delivery from the day order is placed. 12-14 days to actually make the brace and then 10-14 days for delivery, and that last part does depends on mail services and customs of your country.  I will send you a customs form number by which you will be able to track the delivery progress.  Buyer is responsible for import duties imposed by their country's law.
  If there are any unexpected delays on our end I will contact you immediately  If there are delays associated with postal services that is of course out of our hands...  I live in California and after manufacturing my head brace took only 8 business days to be delivered.

PLEASE NOTE - Price is $850, and that includes shipping to Europe and North America.  
If you are in South America, Australia or other parts of the East, please do send an email, and I'll be glad to inquire as to how much more shipping would cost (do expect at least $100-150 in extra shipping cost).  

International Head Brace

Our International Head Brace can now be found in 8 countries,
get yours now and join in on the fun!

Thank You!


  1. Wonderful! May I suggest a slight modification to the clamping mechanism based on my experience with a 19th century headrest. The knurled knob is already an improvement compared with the 19th century clamping mechanism. Instead of a knob I suggest a lever to make it even easier to tighten. If one's fingers are not up to the task it is easy for the clamp to slip. (I use a woodworking clamp on the wing-shaped tightener to make a secure hold on my headrest.)

    1. Yes, good suggestion, I have this problem with my first head brace.