Introduction to Wet Plate Collodion Photography

Date:  Choose Available Dates Below
Location:  Paw Paw, West Virginia
Cost:  $650

About Wet Plate Collodion Photography

Wet Plate Collodion Photography is a process that utilizes chemistry to create an image from scratch on metal or glass.  The photographer is in charge of creating their image by hand from start to finish.  Positives on metal, or tintype photographs, as they are more commonly known, are familiar – much of your civil war era imagery, up until the early 1900s, utilized this process in its creation.  This process is responsible for many historic negatives on glass, as well – photographers like William Henry Jackson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Gustave LeGrey, and Lady Clementina Hawarden all utilized wet plate collodion for their glass negative work.  Tintypes can frequently be found in antique stores and flea markets.

About the workshop

This class will teach students how to create tintypes (positives on tin), ambrotypes (positives on glass), and glass negatives using chemistry and a basic outdoor darkroom.  The “darkroom” in this case is a makeshift dark space (a pot-growing tent outfitted with a dark cloth) utilized for chemical sensitizing and processing.  Each student will work one-on-one with the teacher in the “darkroom” – and images will be made using large format cameras outside.  There is no prior photography experience required – all are welcome, beginners to advanced!  

All materials and cameras will be provided, but if you would like to bring your own 4”x5” camera or any other materials to work with, you are welcome to do so.  

This class is limited to 5 students.  


Camping is free on my property, but note that there is no running water, and there is a primitive outhouse.  There is a running creek that flows beside the house, and you are welcome to use that to wash up.  

If you are not into camping, there are some local motels and Airbnbs.  You can look in the 25434 zip code area.

This is a 3-day workshop.

Day 1 
The workshop will begin with an orientation of the history and contemporary uses of the wet plate process, followed by a break for lunch, followed by an orientation to the process itself.  Each student will make at least one (but usually more) tintype plate by the end of the day.

Day 2 
A review of the photographic plates from day 1, followed by a chemical mixing demo, followed by an introduction to using glass – students will be welcome to make tintypes or glass plates for the entirety of the day.

Day 3 
A full day of making 4x5" photographs with an additional option to purchase 8x10 plates for larger format photo making at a rate of $25 per plate.  At the end of the day, plates will be varnished to take home.  There will be a culminating critique at the end of class, where we will marvel in all of the work we have done together.  

Cancellations of classes and workshops by students:
Each class or workshop has a maximum number of students. Once a class is fully booked it stops others from booking those spots. If you can’t make a class and want to avoid cancellation penalties, you’re welcome to find someone to take your place.

Cancellation more than 31 days ahead of scheduled date:
100% refund minus a 10% processing fee

Cancellation 8 – 30 days ahead of scheduled date:
50% refund -or- 50% transfer credit toward another similar class

Cancellation from 3 – 7 days ahead of scheduled date:
No refund -or- 25% transfer credit toward another similar class

*No refund or transfer credit for cancellations within 48 hours of start time of class or workshop.

(above: self portrait tintype by Anna Harrod, October 2020, among other photos of workshop in progress)

Lisa Elmaleh Photography

Lisa Elmaleh, 1984, USA, lives in West Virginia and photographs with an 8x10 camera across the United States and at the Mexico Border.
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