American Tintype. 19th Century Photography Brought Into The Digital Age

Staring at your monitor, adjusting your images for hours on end is almost considered the norm for professional photographers now.  That is until you hear about someone like Harry Taylor, who has gone back to basics with Tintype, the art of producing photographs directly onto an iron metal sheet negative.

This raw method of photography is a process of carrying huge iron plate negatives at 11" x 14" size, long exposures of the subject, and then lacquering and coating your negatives with a collodion photographic emulsion. The final products are simply astounding. They manage to present something deeper with every imperfection that modern photographers try to reduce.

The documentary was made by filmmaker and photography enthusiast Matt Morris, who had noticed Harry Taylor in a magazine article about tintype.  After getting Taylor to shoot their engagement photos using this 19th Century process, he returned a few months later with two Canon 5Ds and filmed a fascinating day in the life.

American Tintype from Matt Morris Films on Vimeo.

Harry Taylor isn't the first photographer to stray away from JPEG's, and go back to the art of capturing light with the old methods before this digital world we live in. Ian Ruhter, who turned a white van into a camera obscura using plates so big he needed two people to load the negatives into the van. His project SILVER & LIGHT uses similar methods but the same concept: Getting away from digital. 

After all, around 90% of mobile phones have cameras in them, and how many people do you know without a phone? This digital world is spreading so fast thanks to social networking, the art of photography is becoming diluted by everyday photos of teenagers shooting their breakfast or their walk to school. So it's extremely refreshing to see such talented artists producing images that literally take your breathe away.

 Source: Matt Morris Films

Joe Burt