Hand coating plates is not easy. Even with coating bars and machines,I had a lot of duds
Coatings and uniformity and light leaks and all that aside, anyone else notice that Elijah Wood is just out focus?
It's possible to make high-quality tintypes, but it's not easy to do it reliably. At my business, Photobooth, we've made over 4000 pretty good ones in the past three years, but it's still a struggle to get good results day in and day out. Here's a few:
We've taken tintypes on-site at many events at it is a royal pain to get good consistent results, let me tell you. It can be done, but it's not easy. When you tell someone at an event: "Okay, that pose is perfect. Please stand still while I put the plate in." What usually happens is they look at their phone or wave at a friend, which puts them out of the narrow plane of focus. Bam, a plate is ruined and it's five minutes at least until another is ready.
Victoria Will and Josh Wool are pro photographers but they are not experienced tintypers, so I'm not surprised that the tintype quality is technically not very good. But Victoria clearly has a connection to the subjects, and the pictures have proved to be effective. Many people like them and are talking about them, so they are successful. One could even argue that the Photobooth style of clear, well-lit tintypes would not have been as effective.
Nice tones on the flickr link, but the heads seem too big, and oddly detached from their bodies.
hand made, on the spot, inexperience ( not thousands but maybe hundreds ?)
hype, nervousness, sitters figgity, and not being digital all make for imperfect plates
i don't mind imperfections, and the whole wabbisabbi aesthetic, i can see how some people do
and would probably believe that the imperfections &c detract from the portrait ...
not all modern tintypists work is like this, some ( kerik, bill schwabb, giles clement, andrew moxom, photo booth sf and oodles of others )
are able to pour stunning perfect plates ...
but that takes hours and hours of practice and when you do anything over and over again you get better at it ...
i pour dry plates from time to time, and that is another thing that seems like it would be easy, after all commercial plates where often hand poured in the early days,
but it takes tons of practice ...
But what I was referring to was the technical finish of the images -- the iffy focus is one thing, or someone moved, but the sloppy handling in the darkroom, the streaks and smears, tell me someone is not very proficient at their work.
Either that or, as I said, they want them to look "old" under the impression that folks think old tintypes look like that. Given the once-in-a-lifetime aspect of at least the Hoffman shot, it's a pity there wasn't more care put into the finishing aspect of the things.
And, again, what kills me is that the Sundance shots are getting wide viewing (good) but that means that the next time you tell someone about tintypes they're going to remember those images and all their flaws (bad) and think you do the same thing.
Very sorry PhotoboothSF is closing.