Clare And Carl Web
CREDIT: Gareth Jarvis

IPE 163 Open House - Tintype Portraits

Event info

During our Open House event to celebrate the opening of the 163rd International Photography Exhibition, we are hosting tintype portrait sessions at RPS House.

This fascinating photographic process will be carried out on the day in one of our 7 slots, leaving you with a unique photograph to take home.

Up to two people can be included in each portrait, and there is only time for one photograph per session. Pets are allowed, and can be included in a portrait with one or two people.

Find out more about Gareth and his photographic process below - or skip to some more example images.


Available slots for bookings:

10.00 – 10.45 [Sold]

10.45 – 11.30 [Sold]

11.30 - 12.15 [Sold]

13.00 – 13.45 [Sold]

13.45 – 14.30 [Sold]

14.30 – 15.15 [Sold]

15.15 – 16.00 [Sold]


About Gareth

I am a photographer and printmaker from Cardiff, Wales. I’m deeply interested in the handmade image and work largely with Ninteeth Century processes. Including wet plate collodion and platinum printing. I’m enamoured by the tactile feeling of working with chemistry, glass, watercolour paper and light. Also, I find great pleasure using old cameras made of polished wood and gleaming brass.

To create portraiture, the 1850’s wet plate collodion process captivated me because of its unique aesthetic that renders skin tonality unlike any other photographic medium. Its sensitivity to ultraviolet light sees beneath the skin. The images produced can be ethereally beautiful and reveal deep, poignant features of the person photographed. The narrow focus requires the sitter to project themselves thoughtfully and what results is often a serene, contemplative image. There is a simplicity to the process despite its seemingly arduous nature. It takes only twenty minutes from pouring a plate to the finished piece. Wet plate is ritualistic, great fun and seriously addictive. Beside portraiture I also love to photograph landscapes. More recently using pinhole cameras, which is quite a slow and contemplative process. Quite oppositely, I am also drawn to candid street photography and capturing expression and the energy of the moment. Always with the final aim in mind of creating fine prints.

What is wet-plate collodion?

The wet plate collodion process was invented in 1851 by Englishman Frederick Scott Archer. The process involves coating a glass or metal sheet with a viscous liquid called collodion or guncotton. A heady mixture of nitrocellulose dissolved in alcohol and ether containing iodide salts. In the darkroom the plate is submerged in a bath of silver nitrate to sensitize for several minutes. Next it is transferred to the camera still dripping wet, owing the name 'wet plate'. Here it is exposed through a vintage brass lens using 21st Century lighting. Practitioners of the past could be identified by their blackened silver-stained hands.

Why wet-plate?

Gareth's great passion is to bring the magic of analog photography to people all over. Wet collodion portraiture is a collaborative, interactive experience between photographer and sitter.

You are invited to watch as your image is revealed in the fixing bath, turning from a cool negative to a warm positive before your eyes. An astonishing moment for those familiar only with digital images, particularly children. The entire process takes just fifteen minutes from start to finish and could be likened to the original polaroid.

Wet collodion ambrotypes (glass) and tintypes (metal) are handcrafted, tangible works of art made of pure, elemental silver. Every plate is prepared individually making each a unique one of a kind object. No two are are ever completely alike. Small changes in flowing the chemistry result in organic swirls around the edges of the image which are unreplicable. These slight imperfections are an antidote to today's perfect imagery and the hallmark of a handmade artefact. There are no negatives and so no other copy exists besides the scan.

Wet plate is valued for its hyperrealistic detail and clarity, yet unrivalled by modern technology. Warm toned, creamy smooth and grainless; they allow the subject to appear almost present. The images capture detail unseen by the eye, uncovering deep, poignant features of the sitter. Resulting in images of exceptional honesty and character. An imprint of the subjects soul in silver.

A hundred and sixty years on, examples from the mid-1800's look as resplendent today as the moment they were made. Testament to the durability of the medium.
Your portrait is assured to be enjoyed by yourself and many generations to come. It's humbling to create heirloom photographs to mark people's time together.

Example Images (Credit Gareth Jarvis)

Event Organiser

RPS Exhibitions


Venue Information

All areas are fully accessible with a lift, ramps and restrooms on each floor. If you have any specific requirements, please contact us on so we can assist you during your visit.

There is public parking in Paintworks. We also have reserved parking spaces we can make available for those with accessibility requirements. Please contact us in advance if you would like to reserve a space. From ground level there are lifts to reach RPS House on the raised ground floor.


RPS House

337-340 Paintworks

Arnos Vale



RPS website