The alchemy of tintypes is one Tif Hunter has mastered in the background of a highly successful career as a professional photographer. Celebrated by agencies for his exacting detail in the pre-digital era, Tintype has been his sole focus now over the last decade and has seen him develop this mercurial early means of image capture. It is now a celebrated medium in its own right, praised for its uniqueness and authenticity in an age that has seen image manipulation become a filter through which we are looking.
The 19th century technique of photography onto metal or “Tin” crucially avoids the use of a negative transparency in the process, and what would be its undoing in the evolution of photography has been its source of creative opportunity to contemporary photographers.
It is created by applying a solution of wet collodion onto a metal plate which is then covered in silver nitrate and loaded into the camera. Exposed directly onto the plate itself, the image is then reversed in a final chemical process from negative to positive image. It is an unforgiving medium and each development comes with the risk of losing the plate entirely.
“Each tintype is unique. Handmade, it always has a very beautiful patina of marks and smears and due to the wet chemistry involved, the image is grainless with exquisite smooth tones. The physical nature of the piece of metal and its direct relationship with both photographer and subject make each tintype a unique object.” – Tif Hunter