New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 4 February 8 to 14, 2012

Modern Tintypes
Keliy Anderson-Staley
[hyphen] Americans
Ed Barnas
Kevin  by Keliy Anderson-Staley. Source:
Keliy Anderson-Staley, "Kevin "

Even before digital supplanted film, equipment became more automated, simpler and quicker to use; yet some photographers moved in the opposite direction, seeking older, more manually intensive techniques. Mastering these older techniques requires patience and skill as well as a tolerance for uncertainty. Less sensitive to light than modern materials, they need longer exposures, changing the dynamic between the photographer and subject.

The tintype process, developed in the 1850’s, uses a collodion emulsion that has to be sensitized, coated, exposed, and processed while wet in a timely manner. But it is also insensitive to most of the visible spectrum.

In [hyphen] Americans Keliy Anderson-Staley uses the tintype to explore ethnic identity in America, such as Italian-Americans or African-Americans, among others. In the process she attempts to question visual stereotypes. The results look out from the walls of the Palitz Gallery – well over a hundred faces with piercing eyes stare at the viewer. Each one has faced the camera, head firmly braced, for thirty to forty seconds. With the lens wide open to gather enough light, the plane of focus is narrow and set on the eyes. The high blue/uv sensitivity of the emulsion sometimes seems to penetrate below the surface of the skin. At other times it adds a sculptural quality to the body, particularly in the few half-length portraits, reminding one of ethnographic studies. Mostly head and shoulder shots, the contemporary images are larger than the average vintage tintype, ranging from 4x5 to 11x14 plates, with five images enlarged for effect.

Miguel by Keliy Anderson-Staley. Source:
Keliy Anderson-Staley, "Miguel"

These are definitely not quick snaps and the everyday mask tends to slip away when one tries to remain still for the long view camera exposure. The majority of faces exhibit a quiet, calm appearance some may find disturbing due to the intensity of the gaze. It is the same look that suffuses the faces in early tintypes. Some might term it stern, others stoic, but it seems to signify an inner strength - and several dozen vintage examples are on display in a case in the center of the room, reinforcing the commonality of an underlying identity across more than a century of time.

Keliy Anderson-Staley
[hyphen] Americans

Palitz Gallery - Syracuse University Lubin House
11 E 61st St.
Midtown         Map

212 826 0320

Wednesday, December 14 to
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 to 6; Sat, 11 to 4