Milwaukee artist recreates unique (and stunning!) photography style from the 1800’s

Milwaukee artist recreates unique (and stunning!) photography style from the 1800’s

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Meet Margaret Muza, tintype photographer and new artist-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel

Photography has always been something that’s baffled me — sure I can take a mediocre photo on a phone or on a camera, but how does it actually work? And who in the world figured this out?

Meet Margaret Muza, a local artist that’s now using the answers to create stunning pieces of work using a style from the 1800’s – tintype photography,

Margaret Muza, tintype photographer and new Artist-in-Residence at the Pfister Hotel. Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Margaret Muza, tintype photographer and new Artist-in-Residence at the Pfister Hotel.

“It captured all of the Civil War, a lot of the Wild West… all the photographs of Abraham Lincoln that were familiar to us were tintypes as well.”

Margaret explained that tintype photography is the process that, in fact, inspired both digital and film. Discovered in the 1800’s by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, this style of photography requires hand-mixing chemicals, quick-access to a darkroom and large cameras to develop a clear and shockingly intricate image on a piece of tin.

Margaret Muza prepares to take a tintype of our producer, Makenzie.

But with the progression of photography over the years, tintype photography has fallen to the wayside, and today, Margaret remains as one of only a few tintype artists in the nation,

“I thought [tintype photography] was really beautiful and honest… I could see every freckle and every wrinkle, I saw something really different than I was used to seeing even with the naked eye.”

And now starting her year-long residency at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel, Margaret has a beautiful photo studio and darkroom just adjacent to the Pfister’s hotel lobby and is excited to share this process with others, as well as take tintypes for whoever wants to stop by her new studio,

Margaret and Makenzie watch the final tintype photo slowly develop after the darkroom process.Megan Heller - Pfister Hotel

Margaret and Makenzie watch the final tintype photo slowly develop after the darkroom process.

“You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to pop in and see what I’m doing in here. My door is always open!”

But how does the process itself look in action? Listen and learn more about the stunning process of tintype photography and my interview with Margaret at the Pfister below:

Makenzie's completed tintype. Megan Heller, Pfister Hotel

Makenzie’s completed tintype.