Portrait & Headshot Photographer • Plymouth, New Hampshire

How Sky Fell in Love with Tintypes

Sky loves handmade photography. He studied Photography and Art History in college. He had read about the historic wet-plate collodion process, but because there are so few people doing this kind of photography, he never got to see it first-hand.

During the pandemic, Sky found himself thinking again about photography. He has been wanting to learn something new. So he booked a Tintype Portrait Session for himself and finally got to see the entire process.

A collage of images - Maundy Mitchell Photography front door with logo, welcome mat, and the antique Deardorff camera.
The studio front door and the antique Deardorff camera

A tintype is a one-of-kind photograph made on a metal plate. Using the wet-plate collodion method invented in the mid-19th century, along with an antique camera and lens, I create an original, unique, portrait. Each portrait will be different, and some will have “flaws” – perhaps an aberration that occurred in the chemical process, or maybe imperfect edges. No matter what, each portrait will have its own intriguing characteristics.

Sky with his new tintype portrait standing beside the Deardorff camera with Dallmeyer 3A portrait lens

I was happy to talk about this process and its history with Sky. He watched the preparation of each plate. Next, I photographed him, and then, in the darkroom, he saw each step of the development process.

To Sky, tintypes can create a great deal of emotion. Because they’re not “perfect” in the same way digital images are, they ask the viewer to look at them a little longer. Sky is now inspired to convert his 4×5 film camera to create tintypes. He will be setting up his own tintype studio at his home. He would like to make beautiful photographs of landscapes, the way Ansel Adams did. I am looking forward to seeing his work!