How Tintype Photographs Are Made


Tintype, one earliest photographic processes known to man, has made its mark in the history of photography, but very few are familiar with it at this time and age. Here, we’ll show you some interesting videos on how tintypes are made.

The tintype was described and introduced in 1853 in France by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin, who wanted to speed up the work of plate engravers. Basing his process on the ambrotype, Martin replaced the glass plate with a black iron plate coated with collodion. The plate would then be sensitized before use. The result is a positive image that can be engraved with ease and later on printed.

The process was introduced in the United States by Hamilton Smith, and in the United Kingdom by William Kloen in 1856.

Tintype of the young Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. Photo via Wikipedia

The tintype eventually became the photo booth of the Civil War Era and European carnivals. Photographers and street vendors took their tintype equipment outdoors, usually in fairs and carnivals, where people can have their photographs taken. Because tintypes are resilient and require no drying, the photographs can be obtained a few minutes after the shot is made.

Here are some interesting modern videos of the age-old photographic process:

From the George Eastman House:

And a brief instructional one:

Sources and additional readings:

Tintype on Wikipedia
Illustrated History of Photography on Historic Camera
Tintype on The Old Album

Have you seen the tintype process in actual? Share your experience with us through a comment below!

written by plasticpopsicle on 2011-07-06 #lifestyle #lomography #analog-photography #analogue-lifestyle #tintype #ambrotype #photographic-process


  1. sidsel
    sidsel ·

    I'm always interested in alternative process/old photography, thanks for sharing!

  2. detroitlomo
    detroitlomo ·

    Every year there is a civil war re-enactment at the Henry Ford's Greenfield village in Michigan and during that event a man charges to do Tintype Portraits with time-consistent clothing! i didn't get one last year because it seemed expensive, but now i want one badly!

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