Tintype FAQ

Bristol photographer Guy Bellingham answers your questions about Tintype Photography

How long do I have to sit still for? 

Unlike the Victorians who had to remain motionless for up to twenty seconds while their photograph was taken, I use a powerful studio flash, which means the photos are instantaneous.  There will be a few moments where you have to remain still while the camera is focused and the plate exposed. I use a head rest that gently touches the back of your head to help with this. 

What should I wear? 

Clothing with texture or detail looks particularly good in tintype.  You can wear whatever you like, but what seems to work the best is to go for a timeless/classic look; something that doesn’t suggest any particular era.  It’s always worth bringing a few outfits and accessories, such as a hat or jewellery.  A few little details can really lift a portrait. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the process is orthochromatic, so it’s best to avoid white or light blue clothing. 

How many people can be in a portrait? 

One or two. 

How long does it take? 

Each individual tintype has to be set up, the plate prepared, shot and developed – so around 20-30 minutes each.  Typically, I shoot three plates in a session, so allow for up to two hours for a portrait shoot. 

Can you provide digital copies of the tintypes? 

Yes, not only will you receive the original plates themselves, but also high-resolution digital scans of the tintypes too. 

Will I get to see how the process works? 

Yes, in fact this is what many people enjoy most about the experience.  You’ll see how the plate is prepared and developed.  What’s particularly magical about this process is that the image appears right before your eyes.  Many people like to video this as it’s pretty incredible to watch it appear, like magic! 

Can tintypes be framed? 

Yes, they look particularly good in a shadow box frame without glass.  They can also be displayed on a plate stand or easel.  Just use a very soft brush to remove dust occasionally.  The surface of the plate is sealed in using a traditional shellac varnish, so it will last for hundreds of years. 

Do you sell gift vouchers for tintype sessions? 

Yes.  Simply get in touch by email and I will be happy to provide one for you.

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