Mickey Alice Kwapis

taxidermy & craft

TINTYPES

Last December I got my portrait done by Henrietta's Eye, a kickass power couple named Libby and Stephen who capture their subjects using wet plate collodion photography - commonly known as tintypes.

Collodion photographs are made using metal plates coated in emulsion. In the wet plate method, the coated metal plates are inserted into a large-format analog camera and the images are shot while the plates are still wet. These images require VERY bright light, so the subject must either sit very still for a multitude of seconds while the plate is exposed, or strobe lights are used. Once the image has been shot, the plate goes through a series of baths where it develops. Tintypes are especially beautiful and they have that metallic finish because unlike a gelatin (traditional black and white) print, the lightest parts of the images (negative space) are silver while the darkest parts (positive space) are black, giving only about 50% of the contrast of a regular photograph.

Libby and Stephen sent me my actual prints back in December, but my scanner doesn't pick up on the low contrast of the silver against the black, and everything comes out dark grey. By chance I was searching for something else on Google and this photo popped up on Flickr. If anyone has recommendations on how to successfully scan a tintype please let me know!

tintype

If you have an opportunity to be photographed in this manner, DO IT. There are lots of tintype artists around the world, some of which have home bases in brick-and-mortar studios but others that travel all over the place. (Hey! I do that too!) For the record, in this image I wore a dark orange chiffon top and dark red lipstick. I'm not sure how other colors and patterns translate into tintypes but it's worth researching before your portrait session. I'm definitely digging the way my tattoos look too - it sounds like such a silly thing to say, but whatever! This photo makes me feel great about myself!

Getting a tintype done can be pricey, but it's worth it. Please bear in mind when you go for your session that it's an analog form of art that takes time and lots of practice, but a high-quality portrait will be beautiful and it will last ten lifetimes with proper care. If you've been saving for some kind of splurge, consider a tintype as a way to treat yo'self! HAVE FUN! xo

Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist, jeweler, and person who does a lot of stuff. All site content ©2011-2017 Mickey Alice Kwapis and Niche Lab LLC. Questions? Use the contact form.