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Joshua Black Wilkins: Musician, Tintypes

Posted: February 19th, 2011 | Filed under: hopefully good friend, musician, photographer, singer | 7 Comments »

I’d heard about Joshua, (here and here), from several people around town. Then, one day, I stumbled onto his tintypes. They definitely caught my attention. I know how much work goes into them, and it just impressed me that he wasn’t yet another one of these “young guys with a 5D and an iPhone” — that he was putting in the hard work to create these tintypes. So we wrote to him, asked him to be photographed, and he said yes. So off I go, headed to Inglewood, and he spread out the tintypes on his kitchen table, (see video at the bottom of this post). I should have brought my tripod, and copied some of them for him on the big camera, just to see what they’d look like blown up to 30×40 or so, but I got too caught up in the shooting and his music (and his amazing cat). I think after trying “the official approach”, he ended up going to Home Depot and buying a roll of aluminum, and then some cans of matte black spray paint, and customizing his own approach to the backing material for the images. Then he refines his technique of applying the photo emulsion to the aluminum, and then slides them into traditional Fidelity 4×5 holders. Then he explained the whole thing about the UV light issue with tintypes — the emulsion only responds to blue light. I tried to wrap my head around all the limitations, which made me respect him even further. Also, in the video below, he sings that classic Tom Waits’ song, “Picture in a Frame”. He is the real deal; you can just feel it. He came to photography from carpentry — that’s always a good sign.


Separate from this post about Joshua, here is a small tintype that I bought recently at Downtown Antique Mall. Yes, it’s a gorgeous image, and and it’s fascinating to wonder who these people are. But one thing that i can’t communicate on this blog is the tactile quality, and the weight of the piece, and simply how it feels lying in your hand. It is a special object. I keep it on my mantle at home.

7 Comments on “Joshua Black Wilkins: Musician, Tintypes”

  1. 1 amy said at 3:48 pm on February 21st, 2011:

    LOVE the cat. Best of luck on this new endeavor!

  2. 2 Fred said at 5:30 pm on February 23rd, 2011:

    Like the new site Mark and nice work on Joshua.

  3. 3 Larry said at 2:24 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Thanks for the introduction to Mr. Joshua Black Wilkins. Prompted me to go out and get a couple of albums.

  4. 4 Virgil M said at 12:59 am on February 28th, 2011:

    Great story, great pictures. Keep them coming!

  5. 5 catherine fleming said at 10:33 am on March 2nd, 2011:

    Nice Site, Mark.

    I love Joshua’s work….

    hope you are well…

  6. 6 Jeb Wilson said at 4:03 pm on March 31st, 2011:

    Joshua is bad A…. amzing musician & photog… good work Mark…

  7. 7 Salome Steinmann said at 10:29 am on April 30th, 2011:

    Joshua has taken my favorite portraits. He is a phenomenal photographer & one of the most genuinely awesome folks I know.