To see more of Josh’s photography, follow @joshwool on Instagram.
Josh Wool’s (@joshwool) self-described approach to portraiture is incredibly slow and unapologetically simple. Using equipment and techniques that are more than a century old, the Brooklyn, New York-based artist painstakingly extracts his images from a process that begins with photographic plates and developing chemistry that he makes himself. From there, his portraits are crafted from a conversation, natural light when possible and the removal of any extraneous details or distractions.
“The folks in these pictures are artists, musicians, photographers, creatives and friends,” says Josh. “There’s a certain intangible thing that draws me to choose the people I photograph. In most cases, it’s some aspect of their persona — sometimes it’s their strength, others it’s a sense of vulnerability. With others, it’s something I just can’t put my finger on, but I know I need to photograph them.”
My tintype portrait is ready to go! It’s not fantastic - the blackened right corner is irritating, and I ought to have worn something with more contrast. But I’m quite happy with it.
The wetplate collodion tintype process was developed in the 19th century, using a thin coating of liquid collodion with silver salt to create a photographic positive on a thin sheet of metal. After exposure, the sheets are fixed in a solution of highly-toxic potassium cyanide.
The skull I’m holding is a resin casting of Homo rhodesiensis, a Pleistocene-era proto human that may be the same species as Homo heidelberginsis and possibly a direct ancestor to modern humans.
Hey, quick question, do you know how well tintype portraits work with darker skin tones?? Yours looks really cool and I'm thinking about one for myself someday, but I'm worried it wouldn't show up well.
Provided the photographer know how to light correctly for maximum contrast, it should work just fine. Here are some lovely examples of tintype portraits of medium to dark-skinned people:
A Morris family #TintypeTuesday. There is something about this image. The woman holding the hat and the man’s casual stance is a little more every day than the posed portraits we are used to seeing in tintypes and other early photographs. Although they seem from another world entirely, they are approachable.
[Portrait of a man and a woman] Morris, Marriott Canby, 1863-1948, photographer. 1 photograph: tintype; 3 x 2.5 in. [n.d.]
Engraving of a possibly lost tintype portrait of Union soldiers posing with at least 30 Confederate flags they captured at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek in Virginia, April 1865. Most, if not all of the soldiers photographed here were awarded the Medal of Honor for their achievement of capturing an enemy flag.
Giles Clement is a contemporary photographer who likes to do things the old-fashioned way, because the Nashville-based creative makes eerily beautiful portraits uses camera equipment made in the 1800s. “My tintype images are created using equipment made more than 160 years ago,”