Tintype photography is a lost art. The term “tintype” is a bit of a misnomer as no actual tin is used. The process, which originated in the mid 1800s, entails coating a metal plate, usually iron, in collodion to prepare it for light sensitivity. The coated plated is then dipped in a silver nitrate solution which makes it light-sensitive. The plate is then loaded into the camera, exposed, and taken into the darkroom for processing. The rest of it entails a bit of chemistry, but this is the process by which many photographs were made way back in the day. And it is the process by which Adrian Whipp and Loren Doyen create their portraits in Lumiere, their tintype studio-on-wheels in Austin, Texas.
There’s a reason why the app market is flooded with photography apps replete with vintage filters. Film photography has an inherent appeal both in the smooth grain and process by which the photographs are created. Clicking and sliding in photoshop don’t quite have the magic that moving through a darkroom does. Darkrooms were a part of my childhood, so maybe I’m just a bit biased, but when I saw my first photograph appear on paper in the first chemical bath, I was awestruck. The tintype process is somewhat different, but the magic is still there.
Adrian and Loren have created something really rather cool with Lumiere. It’s exciting to see such an outdated mode of photography brought back to life with contemporary sensibilities. $40 gets you a 5″x7″ portrait, and $80 gets you an 8″x10″. It may seem a bit steep for one photograph, but given the process and the fact that it is unlike anything today’s portraiture can create, you’re getting something beautiful and lasting.
Adrian shoots the photographs and Loren handles the chemistry. Check out their website for more, and if you find yourself in Texas, why not give it a shot?
Via Pop Photo
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