Guy Billingham, a British portrait photographer from Bristol, creates beautiful and unusual portraits. To do this, he uses the traditional 1850s «tintype» process, in which each individual image is hand-made from scratch, creating a single unique portrait.
Tintype (or ferrotype) is one of the types of early photography, where metal plates covered with dark varnish and photosensitive emulsion (collodion) were used instead of paper. The peculiarity of the process is that all actions (emulsion watering, sensitization, exposure, manifestation and fixation) must be performed in 10-15 minutes until the collodion has dried.
Guy Billingham uses aluminum plates measuring 4×5 or 8×10 inches, which he evenly covers with a collodion solution. A large-format camera is required to expose the image to the plates. He had to assemble such a camera manually. It took several months to assemble it, because the camera parts were difficult to get. The most difficult thing was to find a stand (tripod) in the Victorian style, as well as a lens.
To really get the exact Victorian look of the portrait, the photographer needed a petzval design lens with a characteristic curvature of the field and bokeh. To work on the plates required huge lenses, about the size of a large can of paint. They are not cheap and they are not so easy to find, because they are all antique.
Now this homemade widescreen camera is the attraction of the studio. And in Guy Billingham’s studio itself, the spirit of an era when photography was still magic reigns.
Despite his fascination with the ancient technique of creating portraits in the style of the Victorian era, the portrait photographer successfully uses modern methods of digital photography in his work.