Collodion, or the Scholar in Tintype

by Amy Elkins

My research has taken me to the very bottom of the bottle–the collodion bottle, that is.

This ooey-gooey miracle substance has been used for all kinds of things since it exploded (it’s quite flammable) onto the scene in 1846.  By 1951, photographers were experimenting with the substance, using it to adhere silver nitrate to photographic plates.  Brandon, the photographer behind Humans of New York writes about Jill Enfield, a renowned contemporary wet plate collodion process photographer here and includes a time-lapse video of her process:

I, too, recently had the thrilling experience of having my wet plate portrait taken by local photographer Alexander Hadjidakis (complete with Victorian-era neck brace).  I caught up with him at SCAD Atlanta to watch him work, learn more about the practice of wet plate photography, and get his thoughts about how literature and this particular art form intersect in my research.  Here is tintype proof!

Tintype by Alexander Hadjidakis, 2014

Tintype by Alexander Hadjidakis, 2014