Today we are doing something a little new that I wanted to start in this new year which is photo history and today I want to talk about the history of the tintype. My purpose in doing this is really just to sort of shine a light on stuff that we might not have thought about in a while, shine some light on things that we might not know about. And just to bring a little more photos stuff into this Photo Business Help Podcast.

I am coming to you from Minneapolis, which is where I currently live.

It has been kind of snowing outside all day. I did a cool thing today that I haven't done in the city before there's a little collection of art ice houses or shanties on Lake Harriet here in Minneapolis, which is really, really fun.

photo business help episode 72 photo history tintype

So it's a community event and it's always fun once the ice freezes over to see this whole community pop up, or little communities rather pop up everywhere. Kind of like Grumpy Old Men if you've seen that show, it's a it's a little bit like that. But this was more of an artist community kind of vibe. Really chilled out really fun.

They did a little dance party inside one of them was painted like with silver stars, just like the outside of First Avenue.

If you're familiar with that venue here in Minneapolis. Prince made it famous in Purple Rain, and pretty much everyone has played there at some point. So that's sort of one of Minneapolis, his claim to fame. Anyway, so I was out and about doing stuff outside today and I'm going to talk to you about the history of the tintype.

If you're not familiar with tintypes, they are a very old style of photograph that they're also called ferrotypes.

And they came sort of just after the daguerreotype, which is like the very first physical photograph format. I'm talking about tintypes because I was at an event a few years ago now and I had a chance to have my portrait taken tintype style. It was really really cool. Very hot, bright light, really neat to see the final product. I have been digging around for it. So when I find it, I'll be sure to post it on the website

So I'm going to be taking most of this from Wikipedia. But just as sort of like an intro to this, there are a few things that you can do to identify a tintype or a ferro type. First thing is the material that was used, they were made using a thin sheet of iron coated with black enamel. And usually you can identify if it's a tintype by using a magnet. Not tin, not tin at all.

Because tintypes aren't produced from a negative, the images are reversed just like if you're looking at a mirror.

They are a very dark grayish black and a lot of times, you'll notice that the image quality is kind of poor, you don't get a lot of sharpness, at least in the original old school style ones that you might find in a museum or in a family collection somewhere.

A lot of times with these ferrotypes or tintypes you'll also notice that they come in sort of a cheaper sort of paper machete or thicker, cardboard mount or case maybe like you'd get like a prom picture in or something like that. If you remember that just opens up like a book.

They're also found loose just the the piece of metal all by itself.

Daguerreotypes were were, if you've come across them often mounted in fancier sort of gilded little books that open and closed on a hinge much like a locket would say, you can kind of tell the difference if if you know what I'm talking about. So those are some sort of identifying things about tintypes.

The other thing that's interesting that I learned is a lot of them are really small, two by three inches, which is not very big at all. So sort of like a wallet size. I think that's I think that's close to what a wallet would be. So two by three inches, tiny little things. And a lot of the times, too, when you find original tintypes that are from the 19th century, they'll have rough spots or blisters and little spots where the enamel has started to rub off of the actual metal itself. So that's pretty cool.

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Again, if you have a chance to you know, like at a fair or at a art event or something to have a portrait taken using the tintype process, I highly recommend it. It's really, really fun and they last a long time if you take good care of them. So if you're into that kind of thing, check it out.

I'm just going to read a little bit from Wikipedia since Wikipedia is Wikipedia and there's some really good information here that digs in a little bit more into ferrotypes tintypes and what's what's going on here. So here we go. A tintype, also known as a ferrotype is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emotion.

Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 70s.

But lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and has been revived as a novelty and fine art form in the 21st. Tintype portraits were at first usually made in a formal photographic studio, but later they were most commonly made by photographers working in booths, or the open air at fairs and carnivals, as well as by itinerant sidewalk photographers. Because the lacquered iron support was pretty resilient and did not need dying, the tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken.

The tintype saw the Civil War come and go documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes.

It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerant photographers working out of covered wagons. It began losing artistic and commercial ground to higher quality prints on paper in the mid 1860s, yet survived well over another 40 years living mostly on as carnival novelty.

So there you have it. If you get a chance Google tintype, check out the style. And as I said before, if you get a chance, try one out if you know a friend that's doing it, I do actually know a couple people that have revived this style. It's it's pretty neat.

Before I sign off today, I am curious about what you would like to hear more of on the show. I've gotten a few emails for some cool upcoming show topics. I'd also like to hear if you enjoy some of these segments that we do the interviews which are sort of coaching, life coaching on the podcast, the history stuff, I'm going to try and do here, whatever. I am always open to new ideas. I'd love to hear what's helping you out and what you'd like to hear more of. So you can just send a note to if you aren't yet follow along at @photobizhelp on Instagram. You can also DM me there. Have a wonderful day and I will be back on Thursday. Peace



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