Portraits of the old school: Keliy Anderson-Staleys tintypes


For nine years, she has devoted herself to portrait photography by exclusively using a process almost as ancient as the art of photography itself. With her collodion iron plates (tintypes), Keliy Anderson-Staley travels around the USA, always on the look-out for interesting faces and captures them on the robust medium.


© Keliy Anderson-Staley


© Keliy Anderson-Staley

Every tintypes is unique, after the shutter release, one is presented with a positive image, just as with slide-films, i.e. a picture that can be viewed directly. Since collodion is eminently impervious (-30 ISO), every shot needs to be exposed at least 10 seconds. In order to keep the length of exposure within bounds and to draw attention to the person being portrayed, Keliy makes use of fast lenses and shoots at the widest aperture. Just imagine a person sitting perfectly still in front of the huge, almost cannon tube-like camera, for over ten seconds. Even the smallest motion might lead to motion blur or move the thin focal plane of the eyes over to the cheeks or ears. One or the other may wonder, at this point, why the artist actually uses the ancient, tedious process. Just read the following, admittedly slightly older, interview and form your own opinion. Scroll down, the part on the process is highly insightful, although the general views on photography (reality or fiction?) are interesting, as well. 🙂

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