Tintype images from the Sundance Film Festival

3 February 2014

esq-25-exclusive-sundance-portraits-glenn-closeI went to the Esquire site to read an article about Philip Seymour Hoffman — because I’m crushed that he died as well as how he died — and stumbled onto this series of photographs.

Only a few photographers use this ancient method anymore. The tintype became popular during the 1860s as a cheap and comparatively quick way to take photographs (think a 19th-c. version of the Polaroid). And if you’re familiar at all with eerie 19th-c. portrait photography, as you look at them you won’t be surprised by the strange beauty you find there.

What you will find is mostly a bunch of very young and very beautiful actors, of course. But when the photographer turns to older actors (Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe, PSH), the images get a lot more interesting.

esq-09-exclusive-sundance-portraits-philip-seymour-hoffmanSo let yourself enjoy some of Hollywood’s faces as we rarely see them. It’s as if the chemical process of developing the plate finds a way to caress, and get stuck in, the wrinkles and cotton shirts and unusual mouths and leather jackets of these people. The camera especially loves grey hair and light-colored eyes, because the light gets lost there and turns the image into a haunted house.

Oh, PSH, you’re gone too soon.


5 Responses to “Tintype images from the Sundance Film Festival”

  1. Hattie Says:

    I think Glenn Close looks marvelous.

  2. eteokretan Says:


    • eteokretan Says:

      must add: it makes them all look so much more real. Even some of the pictures of younger stars make them look “older” (i.e., their real age) and not so silky-perfect. Lovely.

      • Didion Says:

        I agree completely. These images make me like them so much. (At least the ones I know; there’s a surprising number of unknowns to me at least.)

  3. Hattie Says:

    I just notice that Hoffmann looks as if he has cleavage.

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