An inspired purchase of a Canon AE-1 at a garage sale long ago led me into taking photography "seriously". Partly as a result of that purchase I received my degree in photography from Sonoma State and have been involved in the Sonoma County photo world as a photographer, instructor and technical resource for over twenty years. I regularly respond to being called "Photo Guy" when out in public. I currently teach photographic techniques, both digital and analog, in one-on-one settings as well as group classes, at local schools and through my photography supply store, Jeremiah's Photo Corner.
I was originally bitten by the allure of photography while studying architecture in college. During the slide presentations of buildings I noticed how some photos captured the "atmosphere" and "feeling" of a structure, while other photos did not. Initially it was the desire to accurately record this atmosphere of a building that led me to buy that first 35mm and pursue photography. But what ultimately lured me away from my architectural pursuits was the rewarding dynamics of photographing people and the hands-on, real-time management of variables in the darkroom.
In the wet plate collodion process (tintypes, in this case) my original enthusiasm for creating portraits and working in the darkroom returns time and time again whenever I am under the safelights developing plates.
The wet plate collodion process was developed in the 1850's and is most often associated with that era. In spite of its old-timey reputation it continues to be an extremely viable and exciting method of making an image that possesses an inherently unique beauty of its own. With its extraordinary detail and resolution, the clarity and luminosity of a tintype can often have the viewer wondering if a bit of the sitter's soul was indeed captured in the image.
This process resonates with me because it allows me to entertain my inner photo-craftsman, as well as my curious people-watching sociologist and my repressed mad-scientist. Part photography, part alchemy, with a touch of dexterity and finesse, the tintype process is one of the most complex photographic processes. Each picture requires a plate to be prepared shortly before exposure, shot while still wet, and developed immediately afterwards, all the while managing an endless string of variables. Because of the involved nature of the process, the pace of your shoot will be slower than a typical digital shoot. But the necessary steps along the way (which you are welcome to observe) will add to your experience and allow for a deeper appreciation for the process and for your final image.