PMM hosts a tintype photography booth July 29, 10 a.m-5 p.m.

The art of taking a tintype —no selfie stick needed

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 1:45pm

    SEARSPORT—Contrary to its name, a tintype portrait is not created on a piece of tin at all.  It’s a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, lacquering or enamalling.

    Portland artist Cole Caswell likes to go around to modern day fairs and carnivals with his mobile tintype booth just like photographers used to in the late 1800s, when this type of photography was wildly popular with crowds. Because tintypes were reproduced very quickly and relatively cheaply on metals, it became the earliest form of street photography and made it easy for the general public to get a photograph taken.

    On July 29, Penobscot Marine Museum hosts Caswell from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with his mobile booth in conjunction with the museum’s first major exhibit on historical photography. Visitors can have their portrait taken for $40 (which also includes a two-for-one museum admission) and then can watch Caswell do a tintype demonstration at 2 p.m. (complete with all kinds of odd clothing and props for that old-timey look).

    PMM’s photo archivist Kevin Johnson set up the tintype photo event.

    “I’ve known Cole for a long time, since we both attended the Maine Photographic Workshop,” said. Johnson. “He sets up at The Common Ground Fair every year when you can have your tintype taken. I thought it would be cool to not just talk about the historic process, but demonstrate how it’s done, much like the traveling photographers might have done back in the day.”

    Check out our gallery of tintypes taken by Caswell at The Common Ground Fair.

    For more info about PMM’s photography exhibits, which run until October 18 visit:

    Kay Stephens can be reached at