FAQ – Cleveland Tintype

  • What is a tintype?
    • The wet plate collodion process was invented in 1851.  Initially it was used to create negative images on glass plates.  In the mid 1850s the process was modified to create positive images on metal – the tintype – and glass – the ambrotype.
  • How do you make a tintype?
    • A viscous liquid called collodion is poured onto a metal or glass plate.  It then gets sensitized with silver solution to become light sensitive before being loaded into a film holder and exposed to create an image.  The process is completed by developing the plate with a solution containing iron and then dried.  The last step is to provide a varnish or acrylic to the dried plate for protection and longevity.  The entire process from pouring collodion to developing must be completed before the plate dries.
  • How long does it take to make a tintype?
    • The process to create a tintype or ambrotype takes about 15 minutes from pouring the collodion to developing the images.  That is followed by a 20 minute wash in clean water to make sure the chemical process has been completely stopped before drying and varnishing.
  • What’s the difference between a Pop-up and a Commissioned session?
    • A Pop-up event is a one day “photobooth” type event with individual portrait time available through-out the day.  Sign up for an available appointment spot, get your portrait and you’re done.  They take place at various locations in the area like coffee shops, brewpubs, etc…
    • A Commissioned event is a one on one session with me to make multiple portraits of yourself or your family.  I will typically spend several hours with you making multiple plates.  They are appropriate for families, engagements, weddings, maternity portraits and the like.
  • When do I get my tintype?
    • How your tintype will be delivered depends on where it was made.
      • Pop-up Event Portraits will be available for pick-up at the event location the following week or they can be delivered by mail
      • Commissioned portrait session plates are typically delivered after session in person or by mail after they have been varnished off site.
  • What should I wear for my tintype?
    • The collodion chemistry is primarily sensitive to UV light.  Blues will tend to appear white in finished images while reds will appear closer to black.  The images are also reversed horizontally.  That means text and logos will appear backwards and for that reason I suggest avoiding clothing with either.
  • How long will my tintype last?
    • Tintypes, ambrotypes and glass negatives from the 1850s are still around today and can be found in grand parents attics, antique shops and flea markets.  The chemistry I use to create your image will be very similar to the chemistry used 170 years ago so with proper care and handling, your tintype should last just as long.
  • How should I display my tintype
    • Tintypes can be matted and framed like traditional photographic prints or just set on a shelf.  If you leave them exposed, I would suggest dusting with a microfiber cloth and a damp cloth using only water.  
  • Can you make my photo in a tintype?
    • No.  Not that it isn’t possible.  It just isn’t a service I offer.