I wanted to give up : Tintype failure

I wanted to Give up, I wanted to quit. 

Tintyping (1800's technique of photography) did a great job of cutting me down a peg or two. I had been working as a full-time professional photographer for over a year when I started experimenting with the process (check out my first blog if you want the full story). I flailed hard for a few months. I wanted to quit, I wanted to cut my losses and give up completely-- I didn't though.

Lansing Michigan Tintype Photographer Steven Glynn

I have never been a quitter (Yeah, I know everyone says this, but I really hate giving up on anything) so I wasn't quick to give up on tintype photography. I spent tons of time, energy, and money on learning what I had so far, the last thing I wanted to do was give up and waste all of that, but I thought long and hard about doing it. The process is expensive so obtaining more chemistry and raw materials seemed almost silly with the terrible results I had been getting. I thought to myself, "why should I keep digging myself into a big hole". 

Ultimately I gave myself a strict deadline to get things figured out, I had 10 plates left to get results. After wasting the first 100 or so I thought I need to really nail this fast or cut my losses.

Tintype Civil War photographer Lansing Michigan Steven Glynn

I poured the first plate, set up my shot, developed the plate and I couldn't believe my eyes... there it was, an image! Thinking back I recall immediate results, not a perfect image appeared but a good one. The subsequent images after got better and better. I had night and day results with the new set and I was stoked to keep going. I went online and ordered more stock and I continued from there. 

I'm not sure what changed from the failed plates to the successful ones that came out. I think it was knowing I had to really push my knowledge and practice to its limits. When things came together and the stars aligned it was a beautiful thing. 

This really opened my eyes to something I may have lost in my humble successes. It's the idea of working with intent and focus. Anytime I make myself push the bar and focus all of my attention on one thing I have great results. When I go through the motions I do OK, but things rarely are exceptional comes from it. With the tintype process, I learned I have to be on my A game the entire time as a baseline. I couldn't do it mostly right, I had to meticulously do every step start to finish.  

Apply this idea to something in your life and see what comes of it! 

Thanks for reading, If you want a tintype done please reach out to me on my contact page!



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