A Christmas Gift

Mark Schultz by Keliy Anderson-Staley

My partner (Mark Schultz) does not like to have his picture taken. He never feels comfortable in front of a camera and always looks it. Last Christmas, I made arrangements for him to have his portrait taken. The catch is that the photographer works in tintypes. This may seem like a cruel thing to do, but the process of sitting for a tintype is quite different than sitting for a more contemporary process.

We’ve all seen old pictures, and nobody is smiling. We’ve been told that it was a more austere time; that it wasn’t the fashion to smile, perhaps, that people has bad teeth and didn’t want to show them. The truth is none of these things, but rather that the process of having a picture taken made it impossible to hold a smile and have a clear picture. You would sit in bright light with your head in an iron brace keeping as still as possible for as long as 30 seconds. No one can hold a smile perfectly still for that long.

I commissioned the portraits from Keliy Anderson-Staley. Keily just had a show open up here in New York. I attended the opening at the Palitz Gallery at Lubin House, 11 E 61 St in Manhattan. [hyphen] Americans is running through February 8th. Keliy’s work is incredibly beautiful and there’s something in the process that connects with the sitter in a way that other photography cannot. All artifice is stripped away to make way for art and a connection with the eyes of the sitter that goes beyond intimate. Keliy not only uses antique equipment and chemistry to create her portraits, but takes advantage of the current technology to reproduce some of these works on large formats using LAZER printers and huge metal sheets to create tintypes in a size that would not have been possible at the dawn of photography.

Sitting for Keliy was the first time Mark has felt comfortable in front of a camera. He was kind enough to let me sit for some of the pictures too.

Erich Erving by Keliy Anderson-Staley

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