Do take a look at this fascinating and beautifully photographed mini-documentary by Matt Morris that provides us with a thoughtful and beautiful look at the old process of tintype photography (via PetaPixel). As an amateur historian who unsurprisingly also has a love for old things, tintype has always fascinated me—the photographs being little portraits of our own past. Now, at least one photographer has revived the process.
Isn’t that a wonderful documentary?
The part that really struck me most was when tintype photographer Harry Taylor mentioned the perfectibility of digital photography (having some knowledge about the matter, we’ll have to include film photography as well—this Hurrell portrait of a young Joan Crawford says much) compared to the fruit of the tintype process, which is so very detailed and…alive. A twenty-second exposure can capture a whole lot of life and spirit.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to look at old tintypes or daguerrotypes, the amount of detail is really impressive, and the monotone aspect of the images often makes them look borderline three-dimensional to me—such depth! Taylor’s tintype photos are much the same; you won’t be able to hide imperfections very much at all in them, but is that such a bad thing? Then again, because I’m a documentary photographer, perhaps that’s why “imperfection” isn’t so offensive to me—unless, of course, I’m shooting someone’s classic car for them (no one wants a dust or water speck in a picture of their ‘baby’!).