This is not an ordinary portrait, and each tintype is unique and rare. Minor imperfections and aberrations are to be expected. You will be able to witness each step of the process and see the image as soon as it is developed. I see every image as an opportunity for collaboration and connection. Tintypes are unique, handcrafted images, which look different based on many factors, so expect some variation in yours from what you see on this website. Some differentiation around the edges, for example, is a telling artifact - and part of the beauty - of the image. Movement of the sitter, lighting, and chemistry may affect the image, so we may need to take more than one shot (free of charge) to make sure your image meets my technical standards, within the limits of the process itself at the time of development.
Continue reading for Process, Planning, and Pricing (including events and gift cards), below:
1. We'll start with a consultation about what kind of look you'd like for your photo(s), its overall feeling, and composition.
2. We'll pose the shot in front of the camera.
3. I'll prepare your plate, a process you're welcome to watch. We'll wait three minutes for the newly-coated plate to cure. The plate must remain wet throughout the process, and it is now light-sensitive.
4. You'll resume the pose, I'll load the newly-coated plate, then you'll remain still for a 1-3 second exposure. There is magic in this long exposure time - many viewers remark that expressions are more complex in these images, and a truly meaningful document of the person photographed!
5. The plate is then developed in the darkroom, and fixed in chemistry. This is when you'll see the image appear as a negative, then as a positive, right before your eyes! It also makes a great time-lapse for social media videos - tag us at @rivercitytintype!
6. The plate is then rinsed in water for 30 minutes. You can kiss your plate so long (for now) and we'll arrange pickup (free of charge) or mailing (available for $5) before you leave the session.
7. I will apply a wax to the surface of your photograph to protect the silver from tarnishing, and it will be ready to pickup after 24 hours.
What We'll Do
The initial setup for a pose is around 10 minutes, which includes assessing lighting and exposure. Once this is set up, it takes around 10 minutes to make each plate. It takes 3-5 minutes to develop a plate, 1 minute to fix the plate, and 30 minutes to wash the plate. Plates are then thoroughly dried and waxed, and available for pickup within 24 hours. We will arrange pickup and mailing options before you leave the session.
What to Wear
The wet plate process is both photographic and expressive, with a special sensitivity to color. Tintype interprets colors and values differently than traditional black-and-white film. Bright blue appears as bright white or grey, and even tattoos may disappear on one's skin. Reds, greens, and some yellows appear dark. Please avoid wearing all black or all white. Props, patterns, hats, and textures are especially fun for tintype, so please consider this as you plan your outfit! Keep in mind that text will appear as a mirror-image in the final photograph. Some eyeglasses appear as sunglasses in this process, so I recommend you remove your glasses just prior to the photograph. \
Requesting Additional Photographs
No image can be recreated the same way, but you're welcome to request additional portraits (perhaps with an outfit change or alteration) for $40 each during the session.
There are chemicals stored in and carried through the darkroom, so it is important that children and adults in the studio are able to understand and follow directions for safety. Do not touch, taste, or spend too much time smelling these chemicals!
For natural/outdoor lighting without studio lights: It is difficult for young children and infants to be perfectly still throughout the exposure. I'm happy to include your child in a portrait, but be forewarned that they will appear just like children in antique photographs - blurry!
For indoor lighting: making the photograph includes a bright flash (for an instant), so it may be jarring but will result in a more focused portrait.
Upon arrival, I'll ask you to sign a form where you can opt to give me permission to reuse your photograph on either or both (a) social media and (b) my website.
Pricing and Options
The following packages are just to provide ideas. Portrait sessions at my studio start at $75 for the first portrait, then $50 for each additional tintype after that.
Special events at your location: contact me for pricing and info, and check out my recent Pop-Up Tintype events here
Gift certificates: purchase an eGift card in the pricing interval you'd like to give ($75, $125, etc), and the recipient will receive it via email immediately or on a date you set.
4" x 5" Single Portrait - $75
(featuring up to 2 people in the image)
4" x 5" Double Package - $175
(2 individual portraits, 1 two-person portrait)
4" x 5" Friends & Family Package - $225
(2 individual portraits, 2 multiple-person portraits)
Other Pricing Options
All pricing is for metal (aluminum) plates. These are technically called alumitypes, though most people refer to all wet collodion photographs on metal as "tintypes." If you prefer a glass plate (called an ambrotype), add $15 per plate.
Other package ideas and special commissions are welcome! Please contact me with the details of your idea, for further pricing info.
I recommend a maximum of 2 people per photograph, as 3 or more people per image results in some subjects being out-of-focus.