DETAILED PORTRAITS MADE BY MICHAEL SCHINDLER USING THE WET-PLATE COLLODION PROCESS

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Michael Shindler in San Francisco has to date welcomed more than 3,500 people who walk into his tintype portrait studio to pose for portraits. He prepares each tintype plate by hand for a single exposure, processes the tintype immediately, and gives his subjects the only copy of their portraits. They possess an unbeatable timeless quality about them. The Wet-Plate Collodion process, first introduced in 1851, involves coating an enameled metal or glass plate with a collodion mixture, which is then sensitized, exposed and processed all within a few minutes and while the plate is still wet. The resulting image (while technically a negative) is made up of extremely fine silver particles that are creamy-white in color, which allows the image to be viewed as a positive when seen against a black background.

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For example, a wet-plate collodion image made on glass (traditionally referred to as an Ambrotype) would appear as a negative when viewed on a light table, but if the plate were held over black velvet (or the back of the plate was painted black) it would appear to be a bright and lustrous positive image. So, the same process can be used to produce both glass-plate negatives and one-of a-kind, direct-positive images on black metal or glass. Either way, wet-plate collodion plates are capable of rendering exceptional detail and extraordinary subtlety in tone. Positive plates have beautiful, milky-metallic quality not unlike a daguerreotype and must be seen firsthand to be truly appreciated.

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“I have a tintype portrait studio called Photobooth, on Valencia Street in San Francisco. Over the past year, I’ve had about 3500 people come through the door, sit in front of the camera and have their portrait made. Some of them came looking for me and some just wandered in and asked what we were doing there. Either way, I do not choose who I photograph, and I like the exercise of being constantly confronted with new people and having to figure out what I find interesting about them.

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I prepare each tintype plate by hand and make a single exposure of each person (occasionally two, if I make a mistake). The tintype is processed immediately so the subject can walk out the door with it about 15 minutes later. Since each plate is a unique direct-positive, there is no negative and only one copy of the image exists.

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So, I scan them before I give them away. But this is something I very much like about tintypes: they are things, actual objects! And things are good”…Here below we show you some results, that are really wonderful. For more information, or to get in touch with Michael, just follow the link below.


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www.michaelshindler.com