learn by teaching

Teaching a Tintype Workshop by Ron Cowie

Teaching Tintypes.

I was in a darkroom teaching a tintype/wet plate collodion workshop at the New England School of Photography. I’ve been teaching at the NESOP for about twenty years and it never gets old.

Teaching tintype is the epitome of “slow photography” and that is important. Students left with under ten finished plates each and that was a successful weekend. In a fun twist, when wet plate collodion and was the “latest and greatest” technology of the day (1860’s), it was the fastest process being used.

Why teach (or take) this workshop?

  • It’s good to slow down.

  • Learning the history of a medium builds a deeper understanding of its present iteration.

  • The sound of running water in a darkroom is peaceful.

  • It’s fun.

I often think of the classes I teach as “play-dates” for adults. While they can inspire larger bodies of work, most of the time, it’s just a fun weekend of trying something new.

The most successful students are the ones who just have fun splashing around, asking questions, and making stuff for a few days.

I always leave these weekends a little tired but energized. The curiosity of the students is contagious and delightful. While I know more about the mechanics of the process I’m teaching (I hope), I’m still learning how to teach it effectively. That journey never really ends. For that, I’m grateful.

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