Wet Plates by Matt McDaniel

Today, when the term instant film is used, it can mean many things. Images of 600 cameras or folding SX-70’s ejecting shots from the front of the camera. For some, it’s the idea of shooting an expired pack of 669 from a Land Camera or some Fuji 3000B in a Mamiya RZ. For others, Instax cameras with their business card size prints is what comes to mind. One things for certain. No matter what your idea of instant film is, we all agree it’s magic. Seeing an image develop before your eyes. Having a tangible memory in the palm of your hands in a matter of minutes.

One thing I bet that doesn’t come to mind when we talk about instant film or instant photography is tintypes. What? Of course not! How can tin types be considered instant photography? Well, thats what todays post is about.

We have Matt McDaniel from South Jordan, Utah on the blog today. I contacted Matt after seeing some of his tintypes and after seeing many of the same cameras we use for instant work being used for wet plates.  I was curious about the art and about the time it took to create one of these beautiful images. Believe me, I was surprised when Matt told me he can create an image in about 10 min. Thats less time than it takes for an Impossible color image to fully develop.

I bet you’re listening now! Let’s take a look at some images Matt has created, but dont go anywhere. At the end of this post, we’re gonna give you some information on the Wet Plate Workshops Matt teaches.


From Matt:

I was always interested in the history of photography and historic processes. I decided I would give wet plate photography a try. I ordered everything I would need and studied a lot of other photographers’ work and processes. I’ve been shooting wet plate for a couple of years and am still learning everyday. I love the process of wet plate and the hands-on aspect of it. It’s amazing to see it happen for the first time, it’s really like magic, and you can’t help but be amazed at the fact that you made, really MADE that image.

I’m using a combination of old techniques and gear along with new techniques and gear to accomplish my wet plate work. Most of my wet plate work is in tintype form, which gives a one-off finished product that cannot be reproduced without digitizing. I shoot both on 4×5 and 5×7 formats. Camera of choice at the moment is a Kodak 2D and an Aero-Ektar Lens.

If you are interested in learning the Wet Plate Collodion process, I’ll be teaching workshops in the following cities, and will be adding more cities as time goes by: Salt Lake City, Boise, Los Angeles, Denver, Bay Area. For more info on the workshops click here.

What’s covered during the workshops:

Gear you’ll need, and where to get it

How to use the gear

Chemicals that you’ll need

Formulas and mixing

Coating and sensitizing

Exposure times and lighting

Fixing, washing and varnishing

Delivery and digitization

Workshops include:

Use of cameras (You are able to bring your own if you so choose)

Use of darkroom

Use of chemicals

5 plates to expose and keep

Hands-on training (You will be making the plates and exposing them)

Small group size (For more personalized instruction)

Wet Plate Quick Guide (PDF) (You receive this instantly when you register)

Dates are being added to the list as you are reading this. Want Matt to come to your town? Drop him a line and let him know. Want to see more of Matts work? Here are the links.











  1. THIS IS AMAZING! I need to go to one of your workshops!

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