Intro to Tintypes: Wet-Plate Photography Circa 1859

Taught by:
Rowan Renee
Apr 01 — 02
10AM - 5PM, both days
$295 [$245 + $50 materials fee]

Wet-Plate Collection is one of the first photographic processes invented in the 1850’s. It’s called “wet-plate” because the entire production of the image is created within 15 minutes while the plate is wet. The notorious volatility of the process produces images that combine hyperreal sharpness with an ethereal mix of artifacts and imperfections. In the increasingly intangible digital age, the tintype provides a refreshing counter-point where photography approaches alchemy.

In this hands-on workshop you will learn all the steps needed to coat, sensitize, shoot, develop and varnish a 4×5 tintype. Each plate is a one-of-a-kind positive image on blackened tin, there are no negatives or enlargements in the process. There will be 2 antique large format view cameras for shooting outdoors in natural light or indoors using UV studio lights. We will develop in the Pioneer Works darkroom, and discuss DIY methods for building your own process, making it approachable to people of all backgrounds who may not have photography experience.

Saturday is a lecture/demo which will introduce the process. Each student will shoot one tintype with one-on-one assistance from the instructor. Sunday is an open shooting day during which students will have the opportunity to shoot their own work.

Please Bring: Costumes, props, accessories for shooting self-portraits or still-life. Items with contrasting colors and textures work well. Think lace, knits, plaids, reflective qualities etc. Also bring containers to bring your tintypes home.


Rowan Renee is an artist and educator working in Brooklyn, NY. Their work in photography, sculpture and installation confronts dominant narratives of power and oppression. Their most recent solo exhibition, “Z,” explored gender ambiguity through nude ambrotypes with transgender, cisgender, and a spectrum of gender non-conforming individuals. In the past year Renee has received The Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency and the Ossian Arts Fellowship. They have been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, and Hyperallergic among many other publications.