One thing I really, really love is using old technology to create new things in a way more streamlined and successful processes can’t fully capture.
In the same way that adding digital film grain to your camcorder movie will never match actually shooting on 35mm, it’s a completely different feeling when you listen to electronic music that uses chiptune samples versus using tracker technology to make chiptunes that can actually run on the hardware they are designed for.
And one of my absolute favorite uses of old technology is ancient, antiquated 19th-century photography equipment in modern day.
Yeah, I’m sure someone with a powerful enough digital camera and enough time spent in photoshop can replicate most of the feeling of a daguerreotype or talbotypes or, as this article is about, tintypes. But with very few exceptions, it won’t be close enough to the real thing.
Case in point, in 2014 and 2015, movie stars at the Sundance Film Festival were captured with tintype cameras. The results are striking and gorgeous, and most of all completely authentic.
You can see most of the photos at this link here, but I wanted to share a few of my favorites:
Of course, the most famous of these is the 2014 photograph of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the final images of the man before he died shortly after:
There’s a lot more, but these are certainly some of the best in my opinion.
Probably more emotionally moving and politically charged, there were also tintype photographs of the war in Afghanistan that are also very good.
Maybe the best part of using old technology like this is that because it’s a bit more difficult, a bit more time-consuming, it’ll never really gain enough popularity to become “mainstream” again. I imagine if the world suddenly took massive interest in tintypes and you could suddenly buy tintype cameras at Target and automatically upload them to Instagram, they’d lose a lot of the luster they once had. But when the only people who care enough to use them are talented artists with a strong creative vision and 150 years of historical development to draw from, that’s when you can find some truly remarkable work.