About Us

Established in 2011, the Tintype Photo Lab seeks to keep the craft and magic of historic darkroom processes alive and accessible to the public. We are one of the first service labs in the country to combine digital technology with traditional photographic techniques. 


Owner and tintypist, Mia Nakano, has worked as a photo printer at the intersections of analog and digital photography for over 18 years. In 2009 she dove headfirst into making tintypes. Nakano is endlessly curious about pushing the boundaries of printing techniques and even developed a process Kodak didn't think was possible. She's happiest geeking out in a darkroom or kitchen. View more of her work at mianakano.com

History of Tintypes

Invented in 1851, Wet plate collodion was one of first "field" photographic processes, because it enabled photographers to capture images outside of studio environments. It's called Wet plate because the images need to immediately be processed in a darkroom after they're shot.

Tintypes are images created on black aluminum plates and "look" like photographs.

Ambrotypes are images created on glass and look like negatives. If you take an Ambrotype and put it against a black background, it will look like a positive/regular photograph.

The Digital & Darkroom Processes

  • Digital images are processed in Photoshop
  • A digital negative is printed using an inkjet printer
  • In the darkroom the negative is placed in an enlarger
  • Aluminum plates are coated with a collodion emulsion
  • Using silver, the plate is made sensitive to light
  • The image is projected onto the plate
  • The plate is hand processed with chemicals (developer & fix) and rinsed