1870 called. They want their pictures back
Move over Instagram, a new vintage photographer is in town and his name is Michael Shindler.
Shindler has a unique portrait studio set up in The City that specializes in taking Polaroid and tintype portraits. So if you’ve ever wanted to look like General William Tecumseh Sherman or some other similarly old person, Shindler’s your man.
Shindler, who has some experience doing tintypes for public events at Golden Gate Park and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, told Wired Magazine:
“If it would work anywhere, I think it would be here. People are into it. I’m amazed at how many people know about this process and what it is, even non-photographers.”
The archaic process involves painting a collodion emulsion (basically a syrupy alcoholic solution) on an aluminum plate and then exposing the image directly on it for a few seconds. Portrait-sitters then get the plate itself with their picture printed on the metal reminiscent of a Civil War relic.
The studio, Photobooth, is snuggled between Valencia and 23rd in the Mission and has been open since August 2011. They’ve already made around 2,300 tintypes of over 2,000 subjects. The Shindler photography tool box? A Sinar 4×5 camera, a 150mm Schneider Kreuznach lens, and Profoto strobe lights.
Why a tintype studio? According to Shindler, it was the result of a night out drinking with his business partner Vince Donovan, naturally. He told Wired:
“I was at a bar with Vince — Hotel Utah — just about a year ago. We were just drinking, and he was like, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to start some Polaroid portrait studio.’ And I was like, ‘I kind of want to do that too, but with tintypes.’”
And the unique part about the studio isn’t the tintypes themselves but the fact that Shindler can make a living doing what he loves. He said:
“Everyone I know who’s doing it, they’re just independent — like, everyone has a day job. I think I’m the only person I know who actually does this for a living.”
Photobooth SF also hosts to a variety of equally-hip and popular events. They have workshops for aspiring analog photographers and even hire out a mobile unit to create tintypes at parties.
On April 29, they are putting on their monthly Portfolio Night. Fellow analog photographers can bring photos with them for show and tell while experts give out tips and tricks for creating the perfect portfolio. And, strictly no laptops, tablets, or digital cameras allowed. That means you Apple!