Portrait & Headshot Photographer • Plymouth, New Hampshire

The Art of Imperfection

Last summer, I began learning wet plate collodion (tintype) photography.  These kinds of portraits are handmade, using a process that was invented in 1851.  It’s very different from my other work.

I’m sort of a perfectionist, so it’s the flaws I’m learning to embrace.  The chemicals can do wonky things sometimes.  There is no Photoshop.  There’s a bit of guesswork.

Behind the scenes in Maundy Mitchell's tintype studio room and darkroom.
Collage shows the antique Deardorff 8x10 camera, Maundy working in the darkroom, and a closeup of the antiqueDallmeyer 3A brass lens.

But there is a thrill when the portrait begins to appear in the fixer.  Only then I find out whether the dozens of choices I made to create the image were good!  Almost always, there is something I could have done better.  Often, I love it anyway.

The result is a one-of-a-kind, physical object, a truly archival portrait, flaws and all.

A 5x7 tintype portrait of Hanna
Portrait of Hanna, 5×7 tintype