Turn Your Digital Photos Into Tintypes

Tintype of a TreeAbout a year ago, I remember watching a video on Vimeo about a guy who was out photographing landscapes using a large format camera to take wet plate photographs, also known as melainotype photographs, also known as a “tin types”. My brother in law is a talented photographer, and when I saw him a few weeks later in Atlanta we got to talking about it, and I found out he’d been interested in this process as well. Instead of just watching a video, he’d actually started building a camera and researching the required materials. First efforts led to many more and as his skills improved he began to take tintype photographs at fairs, events, his studio, and even instruct fellow photographers on the methods.

If you’ve seen photographs taken from between 1865 and the early 1920s you’ve probably seen a tintype. You could say they were the original Instagram images. They have an otherworldly, high contrast monochromatic look to them, and because the photograph is also the film (a sheet of metal) they’re extremely durable. You know those photos in the intro of Boardwalk Empire? Tintypes. You know those photos from the civil war with unsmiling men sporting huge moustaches, beards, and/or sideburns? Tintypes.

Visiting Josiah’s studio is essentially participating in an anti-digital act of defiance. You have one shot. You get what you get. Don’t move. Don’t blink.

Have you ever heard of anything more hipster than this?

There was only one problem – unless you were in the Greater Atlanta area, you were essentially out of luck. Living in Scotland meant we could offer encouragement but not much else. And so we joined quite a few friends, family members, and would-be clients clamouring for an option to send in our photographs to be retaken as tintypes. Now, after a few months of testing and retesting the process, he’s ready.

digital_tintypes
Forget Instagram. Create a TinType.

This, therefore, is the ultimate hipster achievement. You can go online right now, upload your digital photos, wait a few weeks, and receive back a genuine tintype, which will last a lifetime. Like most non-artists, I have this deep desire to be artistic, so I was excited to be graciously involved in some of the early testing and feedback phases of their website. I think the site turned out really well, particularly for a first effort, and the ordering process couldn’t be more simple. Choose a size, upload a photo, pay, and then wait for the package in the mail.

Who knows? Maybe you just found the perfect gift (or gift certificate) for that special someone in your life who thinks your taste and preferences are lame!