Tintype Portraits of Silver Miners Created Using Silver They Mined

Silver tintype portraits

Here’s a creative (and super meta) idea for a photo project: photographer Sean Hawkey traveled to a silver mine in Peru and shot tintype portraits of the miners there using the silver they mined as his emulsion.

Interested in the history of photography and the art of wet plate collodion portraits, Hawkey brought crates of camera gear and tens of pounds of tintype plates to the Sotrami mine in Santa Filomena, Ayachucho, Peru.

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After setting up a makeshift studio at the mine, Hawkey created the emulsion he needed using silver nitrate prepared by chemical engineers in the mine’s lab. The concentrated solution is created by combining silver from the mines with nitric acid. Hawkey took the mine’s silver nitrate and diluted it for his photographic purposes.

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Each tintype photo required the subject to sit still for about 15 seconds since the “film” has an ISO of about 1. He ended up creating tens of tintypes:

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Here are some of the portraits created through this project:

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

Silver tintype portraits

You can find more of Hawkey’s photographs from this project here. You can also find more of his work on his website.

Peru, Fairtrade Silver Portraits [Sean Hawkey via NYTimes]


Image credits: Photographs by Sean Hawkey and used with permission

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