Portrait & Headshot Photographer • Plymouth, New Hampshire

Tintypes: Beautifully Haunting Portraits

Emma and Doug find tintypes to be beautifully haunting. They wanted to do something special to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They also found that they have very few portraits of themselves. Intrigued by the historical, handmade wet-plate collodion process, the couple booked a tintype portrait experience.

An 8x10 tintype portrait of Emma and Doug by Plymouth, NH photographer Maundy Mitchell

A tintype (also known as a ferrotype) is a handmade portrait on a metal plate using the wet-plate collodion method. This method was invented in the 1850s. Aside from the studio lights and darkroom safety measures, I create these portraits the same way today.

Behind the scenes photos: open front door of Maundy Mitchell Photography at 62 Main Street, Plymouth, NH; chandelier; antique camera setup
Selfie by Emma and Doug; the couple in front of the camera

Tintypes pre-date film photography. They became popular with soldiers during the Civil War because of their durability. They could be carried around and mailed to families. Once varnished, these images are truly archival.

Antique Deardorff camera with antique Dallmeyer 3A brass portrait lens

Unlike digital photography, tintypes require chemicals, a darkroom, and certain physical conditions. They also require a special large-format camera with a plate holder, lens, and camera stand or tripod. The camera I use, a Deardorff Studio model, was made in the early 1920s. The lens, a Dallmeyer 3A, is a huge, brass, soft-focus portrait lens that was made in 1867.

Two individual tintype portraits

There are many steps to creating one plate. Each image will have unique qualities. Soft focus, blemishes, and swirls are part of the charm.

An 8x10 tintype portrait of Emma and Doug
cell photos of Maundy with antique camera and a closeup of the antique brass portrait lens

“As someone who never feels photogenic, sitting for a portrait, especially a tintype where the results are so immediate and true, feels intimidating. Maundy cultivated the session into an intimate, comfortable, and fun experience, one that was perfect for our wedding anniversary as me and my husband were able to connect and bond, participating fully in the creation and development of the images in the dark room. From beginning to end, Maundy works to help you shed layers and get at the core of who you are, and that is what shows up in the tintype. Doug and I will never forget the wonderful morning we spent creating these memories and pieces of history in her studio. Maundy is a true artist and will help you to connect with your humanity and soul. 10/10 would recommend.” – Emma

Contact me today to book your own tintype portrait experience: maundy@maundymitchell.com