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Preserving the Past, Capturing the Present: The Journey of Three Traveling Tintype Photographers



Tintype photographers on the road are a distinct and compelling species of artists. They offer a touch of yesteryear and the allure of another era to towns all over the world. They are experts in the tintype photography method, which is often referred to as wet plate collodion photography and involves the creation of photographs on metal plates. In recent years, there has been a rebirth of interest in this historically significant kind of photography, and these photographers are leading the way in promoting and maintaining this art form.

Tintyping is a laborious and finicky procedure that calls for a portable darkroom in addition to a wide range of specialized cameras, chemicals, and other pieces of gear. Tintype photographers that travel from location to location often bring all of these things with them. They set up their darkroom in a variety of settings and offer their services to individuals, families, and communities. They provide visitors a look into the past and a concrete connection to a time long gone through the use of their portable studios, which they use to convey the enchantment of tintype photography to modern audiences.

Tintype portraits are genuinely one-of-a-kind works of art because they have a distinct visual style that distinguishes them from other types of photography. Tintype photographers traveled from place to place to capture their subjects. The majority of their photographs have a high contrast and a deep, rich tonal range, which gives the impression that the photographs were taken decades ago. The work of these traveling tintype photographers is something that should not be missed, whether you’re a photography enthusiast or you’re just searching for a one-of-a-kind and significant portrait.

When Justin Borucki, a music photographer with 20 years of experience, signed up for a high-class photography class to fulfill a curriculum requirement, little did he know that it would be the start of his now thriving career. Photography quickly captured Borucki’s heart and imagination, and he soon realized that the best way to find fulfillment was to combine his love for photography with his love for music. Borucki spent the next two decades capturing all kinds of music, from local bands in basements to sold-out arena shows. However, after 20 years, Borucki found himself yearning for a new challenge, something that would bring him back to his roots as a young photographer. Borucki discovered the process of wet plate photography when he picked up a book called Chemical Pictures by Quinn Jacobson. “As soon as I developed my first plate, it was like a fire was reignited in my soul,” Borucki said. “I had traveled back in time and was suddenly my teenage self, standing in my high-school darkroom.” Borucki was immediately drawn to wet plate photography and started dragging his large format camera and self-constructed wooden darkroom through the streets of NYC, creating handmade images in the city. “Each plate, he says, tells its own story and reveals an undeniable history and unique texture. This process is so wonderfully beautiful and poetic to me. I take great pride in what I’ve been able to create in this short amount of time. From the equipment I’ve built to the images that have developed on my plates, I know I’m creating a space for myself and my art in the long history of this craft… And I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve discovered with the world.” 

Today, he runs NYC Tintype, a pop-up studio that travels the New York, New Jersey, and Philly areas, offering private sessions for a more intimate tintype experience. He loves the interactive nature of making tintype portraits, seeing people see their image appear right in front of them, and the idea that each tintype has its own soul and energy from where it was created.

The tintype process has many challenges for shooting in the field, and over the years, he has devised a system that works well and consistently. He uses two Profoto 7b packs paired with magnum reflectors to achieve good exposures with his lens, even when dealing with ever-changing cloud cover and the sensitivity of the collodion process to UV light.

John Coffer, who has been working in this medium for more than three decades, takes his mobile darkroom with him on his travels across the United States and sets it up in a variety of different places. John Coffer is a true expert in his field, and he creates works of art that are not only stunning but also timeless by employing time-honored photographic processes. His pictures frequently have a hazy, surreal look, with an emphasis on the subject’s eyes and expression rather than the background or surroundings. This results in a feeling of closeness and connection between the viewer and the subject, which is what gives his portraits their genuinely exceptional and one-of-a-kind quality. John’s enthusiasm for the tintype technique and his dedication to upholding the historical norms associated with it are two of the characteristics that set him apart from other photographers. He is a self-taught photographer who has devoted his life to mastering his skill and sharing his expertise with others. He has spent his life to perfecting his craft. John is a well-known figure in the world of tintype photography, and in addition to his work as a nomadic photographer specializing in the medium, he also conducts seminars and lectures on the subject. Through his work, he is contributing to the preservation of this time-honored art form and ensuring that it continues to attract new generations of lovers and photographers.

John’s portraits have garnered a lot of attention and praise from people all around the world, and he has won a lot of accolades and honors for his work. In addition to that, his work has been showcased in a variety of exhibitions and magazines, some of which include American Photo, The New York Times, and National Geographic. Many people hold John’s portraits in the highest regard, and he is helping to spread knowledge of the aesthetic value and cultural relevance of tintype photography thanks to his work.

John Coffer is a wonderful option for those individuals who are looking for a portrait that is both completely original and significant. Not only are his images stunning and enduring, but they also provide a window into a bygone era and a link to the extensive history of photography. He was one of the pioneers in the field. If you ever find yourself in the fortunate position of being able to sit for a tintype picture with John or to view his work in person, know that it is an experience that will truly be one that you will never forget.

Ultimately, modern itinerant tintype photographers are preserving a historical art form while also giving their subjects special, individualized opportunities. They are producing unique photographs that capture the essence of a particular time and place by sticking to the wet plate collodion process. These creative thinkers are doing more than just protecting photography’s heritage; they’re also expanding the medium’s reach by testing out novel applications. They are bridging the gap between the past and the present by making fresh memories for future generations using current tools and equipment in the same way that tintype photographers have done for centuries. The mobile tintype photographers are expanding the boundaries of photography in fascinating ways, whether through posing models for portraits in temporary studios or capturing spontaneous scenes in the streets.

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The Intersection of Technology and Fine Art:



How NFTs are Revolutionizing Fine Art Photography

The art world has long been dominated by traditional mediums like painting, sculpture, and printmaking. However, in recent years, a new medium has emerged that is shaking up the art world: digital art, specifically Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in fine art photography.

Fine art photography has traditionally been seen as a niche within the larger art world, but NFTs are allowing photographers to create unique digital assets that can be bought and sold like traditional art pieces. In this article, we’ll explore the intersection of NFTs and fine art photography, and how this emerging trend is changing the way we think about photography as an art form.

NFTs and Fine Art Photography

So, what exactly is an NFT, and how does it apply to fine art photography? Put simply, an NFT is a unique digital asset that is stored on a blockchain. This digital asset can be anything from a piece of digital art to a video game item, or in this case, a fine art photograph.

When a photographer creates an NFT of their work, they are essentially minting a digital asset that is unique and one-of-a-kind. This means that the NFT holder owns the original digital asset, even if the photograph can be easily reproduced. In other words, the NFT acts as a certificate of authenticity for the photograph.

This is a game-changer for fine art photography. Historically, the value of a photograph was largely determined by its physical characteristics, such as the quality of the paper or the size of the print. However, with NFTs, the value of a photograph can be based on its uniqueness, scarcity, and provenance.

Creating an NFT of a fine art photograph can also open up new revenue streams for photographers. They can sell the NFT of their work directly to collectors, who can then resell the NFT to other buyers. In addition, photographers can sell prints of their photographs alongside the NFT, offering collectors both a physical and digital version of the same work.

Examples of NFT Fine Art Photography

There have been several notable examples of fine art photography being sold as NFTs, which has demonstrated the potential for this emerging trend to revolutionize the art world.

One of the most high-profile examples of NFT fine art photography is Trevor Jones’ “Piccadilly Circus”. This photograph, which depicts London’s iconic Piccadilly Circus at night, was sold as an NFT in February 2021 for over $100,000. The NFT was purchased by an anonymous buyer, who now owns the original digital asset of the photograph, making it a one-of-a-kind piece.

In November, 2021 Alyson and Courtney Aliano’s Twin Flames #49 fetched a staggering 871 ETH, earning it the fifth spot among the most expensive photographs ever sold. This puts the Alianos in the same league as iconic artists such as Andreas Gursky, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman, solidifying their place in the annals of art history.These sales demonstrate the potential for NFTs to unlock new revenue streams for photographers and provide a unique investment opportunity for collectors.

Beyond individual photographs, some artists are using NFTs to create entire collections of digital art. For example, Mad Dog Jones recently released a collection of NFTs called “REPLICATOR,” which features a series of digital sculptures and animations that explore themes of consumerism and mass production. The collection sold out in just a few hours, demonstrating the appetite for digital art that is sold as NFTs.

While these examples are just the beginning of what is possible with NFTs in fine art photography, they represent a significant shift in how we think about the value of digital art. By creating unique digital assets that are one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated, NFTs are allowing photographers to monetize their work in new ways and reach a wider audience of collectors and investors.

Challenges and Criticisms

While NFTs offer many benefits to fine art photography, they are not without their challenges and criticisms. One of the main criticisms of NFTs is their environmental impact. Creating an NFT requires a significant amount of energy, which can contribute to the carbon footprint of the digital art world.

In addition, there are concerns about the speculative nature of NFTs. Some critics argue that the high prices of NFTs are driven more by hype than by the value of the underlying artwork. This has led to fears of a NFT bubble that could burst, leaving buyers with worthless digital assets.

Despite these criticisms, the use of NFTs in fine art photography shows no signs of slowing down. As more photographers experiment with this new medium, we are likely to see even more innovative uses of NFTs

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Gallery Focus

Painted Smiles and Hidden Tears: A Photographer’s Journey into the World of Circus Clowns



I have never been able to resist the allure of the mysterious world of the circus. Everything about it piqued my interest, from the flashing lights to the colorful costumes to the air of wonder and excitement. Hence, when I made the decision to start on a tour as a photographer to chronicle circuses located in different parts of the world, I knew that I was in for an exciting experience.

Polichinelo – Portugal/Brazil

My adventures have taken me to some of the most remote parts of the world, from the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the desolate plains of Africa, and everything in between. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the clowns no matter where I went. They were a mysterious and intriguing bunch of individuals who were usually hanging out on the outside of the circus and never quite seemed to belong with the other performers.

Harlequin – England

When I first started taking pictures of the clowns, I didn’t understand that behind their painted-on smiles, they were hiding a profound sense of melancholy and isolation. They were frequently the punch line of jokes and the objects of mockery, and yet they continued to perform night after night in the hopes of distracting themselves from their problems by entertaining the crowds.

Klaun – Czech Republic

I came across clowns who had given up everything to the bottle, including their families, their houses, and any sense of who they were. I encountered clowns who had been shunned by their communities because they were unconventional and did not adhere to the standards set out by society. And there were clowns who were just moving around aimlessly, never exactly settling into one location as their permanent abode.

Palyaço – Turkey

In spite of the challenges they faced, the clowns were some of the most strong-willed and motivational people I’d ever encountered. They instilled in me the value of perseverance, the significance of finding joy even in the most difficult of situations, and the admirable quality of being honest to one’s own nature.

Augusto – Italy

As a photographer, when I think back on my travels, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people I had the opportunity to photograph along the route. They not only reminded me of the significance of empathy and connection in a world that can frequently feel so cold and unconnected, but they also opened my eyes to a world that is full of wonder and possibilities.

Limited edition prints are available, please contact David S. Spivak from Focus Gallery, 201.275.5323, [email protected]

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