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The Tintype Man

By Ruth Dunn on April 17th 2013

In the fast-paced digital age we currently live in, photographs can be taken and uploaded to the internet with the blink of an eye by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Frustrated with the quick and easy nature of modern digital photography, American photographer Harry Taylor has taken to working with a blast from the past– tintype photography.

Tintype photography is an early photographic process invented by Prof. Hamilton Smith of Ohio in 1856. This particular type of photograph is developed by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, lacquering or enameling and then used as support for a collodion photographic emulsion.

After discovering tintype photography, Taylor became fascinated by this 150 year old method and the personal involvement inherent in the tintype process.

“The great thing about doing a lot of these processes is you really get deeply involved with it in your mind when you are doing it, and it takes you away from the static.”

“I had pretty much taken film and digital photography as far as I could go to get a look that I always had in my mind’s eye, and then I discovered tintype…Sometimes after a 20 second exposure someone will go wow! There is just something very different having to hold still for something like 10 or 20 seconds exposure where you are reading the thoughts of someone. More of their thoughts come through and there is more depth.”

Documentary film maker Matt Morris was mesmerized by the process of tintype after he got Taylor to shoot his engagement photographs using tintype. Morris then shot a short film showing the craft of tintype and the incredible detail and care taken during the process.

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Ruth is a Brisbane based journalist specialising in articles about visual art, photography, design and fashion. Co-founder of Raw Ink magazine, she enjoys uncovering interesting and unique events, issues and people to write about.

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for posting.

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