Bryan Whitney's Tintype Portraits, which uses miniature “Gem” tintypes from the 1860’s, is designed to be installed in a large circle that the viewer enters and where they are surrounded by the portraits which gaze directly back at the viewer.
The original images, which are only 1” tall and on tin, were the first easily affordable, mass-produced photographs, allowing the average person to have his portrait taken, perhaps for the first time.
The “Gem” tintypes were often made four at a time with a four lens view camera. The images were made on a single plate and then cut up into individual pieces, which could be given away to loved ones, in lockets or in albums. These simple and aesthetically neutral images resemble mug shots and photo booth images. However, in contrast to modern photographs they required an exposure time of almost 10 seconds so that the subject had to carefully compose their expression. The duration of the image making process lends an aura of timelessness to the image. I have selected only those portraits where the subject is looking at the viewer with a direct gaze, challenging the viewer that is looking romantically and voyeuristically into the image with a moment from the past in which the subjects gaze bored into the camera and perhaps into eternity