Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tintype & how do you make these photos?
A tintype is technically a negative of an image exposed directly onto an enamel coated plate of metal (traditionally very thin "Japanned" steel; in modern use, usually enamel coated aluminum). Each tintype is one-of-a-kind and can only be duplicated by scanning or taking a photo of the tintype itself. It can be thought of as a very elaborate, oldee-timey Polaroid. We like to think of them as small chemical paintings. We use antique equipment, handmade chemical formulas and the same process photographers used during the mid-1800s.
Do you do portraits?
Yes, indeed! We offer private tintype portrait sessions by appointment, generally on nights and weekends, at our studio in historic Pioneer Square / downtown Seattle (1st & Cherry). We don't charge a session or shoot fee for in-studio sessions; you simply pay for the number of tintypes you'd like to take home!
How do I book a session?
Please send us an email and let us know when you'd like to book your shoot. Once we've confirmed a date and time, we'll send you a request for a $30 deposit to secure the shoot date. The deposit will be applied to any plates you wish to buy. We ask though, that if you need to cancel, please do so one week in advance of the shoot date as we custom-make the chemicals for each session. In the event of a last-minute cancellation or no-show, the deposit is non-refundable. This covers our expenses for the chemicals we'll have made. (The deposit is absolutely refundable with adequate notice.)
How much are portraits?
4x5 tintypes are $75; 5x7 tintypes are $100; 8x10 tintypes are $150.
Can I use my tintype for my CV, holiday cards, wedding invitations, Facebook profile, birth announcement, etc.?
Absolutely! You can use your tintype in any personal (non-money making) capacity you see fit. Let us know if you'd like us to provide you with a high-resolution scan for personal prints — we charge $30/hour for scanning and color matching services. This will allow you to make copies that are larger than the original plate. If you intend to use the tintype for anything other than personal purposes, please contact us for commercial rates.
Can I use my tintype commercially or use one of your images for my project?
Certainly! If you're looking for a unique and timeless piece of photography for your magazine, book, album art, or other business-related project, please contact us for our commercial rates. Prices and licensing terms vary depending on the project.
Do you do custom photoshoots — something other than standard portraits?
We do indeed! Prices vary depending on the concept and whether it is intended to be used personally or commercially. Feel free to get in touch with your ideas.
How long is a session?
For one or two plates, you can expect a simple portrait session to last about one hour. If we're shooting multiple people and setups, the session might last for several hours. Because everything is done by hand, the process is involved and time-intensive. However, we firmly believe that getting to know our clients a little bit results in better portraits. Unless you have experience as a model, almost everyone is understandably nervous about being in front of a camera — any camera, let alone a big, old obtrusive one. So we take a few portraits, chat and allow everyone to relax a little bit and be comfortable in front of the camera and with the process.
What should I wear?
Below are a few suggestions regarding clothes, make-up and what we've found works best for tintypes.
Generally speaking, the more texture and contrast, the better. Patterns, stripes, polka dots, plaid all look great. Highly textured materials such as wool, tweed, fur etc. look great as well because the process can really pick up on detail.
Most photos will likely be headshots/medium shots, so unless you want to do full body shots, you don't need to worry terribly much about the bottom half of your wardrobe.
If you would like to wear makeup, we'd suggest going a little more garish than you feel is normally acceptable. Makeup with sunscreen in it might give your skin a blotchy effect, so please forgo it if you can.
This process sees reds as blacks and blues as shades of light grey. A black jacket over a red shirt will come out mostly black with little distinction. Similarly, a white jacket over a light blue shirt will come out mostly white.
Blingy or sparkly accessories that catch the light are also great additions!
We've shot people in costume, formal and casual attire so please wear whatever you like and whatever makes you feel the most confident. Any text will come out backward. Because a tintype is technically a negative, you will see yourself as you appear in the mirror.
After you take my photo, what happens then?
Like a Polaroid, you can see the photo develop right in front of you; it's the most thrilling part of the process! After that, the tintype will need to be washed for a period of time, dried and then varnished to protect the plate from tarnishing. If you have time, we can do this while you wait, but we prefer to let the varnish cure for a week. We can arrange for pick-up of the finished pieces (if you're local) or we'll be happy to pop them in the mail.