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Jodie :: Bridal Portraits

This is Jodie, who is just one of the sweetest brides ever! I just photographed her wedding on Saturday and after observing her for the day, I realized just how special she is. I watched her throughout her wedding day handing out gifts to pretty much everyone who came in the door and just thought how nice it was that she was thinking of everyone else on her big day. We did her portrait session just a few days before the wedding and despite the rain and the crazy heat, we had a great session. I was in love with her dress, especially the design of the back of the dress….so elegant! You can tell I loved the back of the dress because I posed her quite a bit to accentuate that specific feature. Jodie was also a dancer for a long time, so I felt like the poses from the back really emphasized that fact. I know you Eastern North Carolina photographers will recognize this location, but for any others we photographed at Tryon Palace, which is also where their wedding was held.

Here are my favs!


Jay Koopman

Jay Koopman is a Life Pastor at Pee Dee Community Fellowship in Florence, South Carolina, which just so happens to be my church. Jay also ministers all around the world. Be sure to follow him on Facebook!

Jay needed pictures for promotional materials so we headed downtown Florence and had a great time!



Neil & Candace :: Engagement Session


I know, I know. It is evidently clear that it was fall when we took these pictures. So, yes. I am super behind. Better late than never I suppose. Last year I posted pictures of Neil’s marriage proposal to Candace, which was so much fun! Neil was one of my photo students when I taught at Lenoir Community College, so it is of course, a pleasure to be able to photograph for these two. In the fall we traveled to the mountains of North Carolina so we could photograph Neil and Candace in one of their shared loves, which is nature. Neil is an avid nature and wildlife photographer as well as a portrait and wedding photographer. So, be sure to check out his website:

We had such a good time and the weather was perfect! And as you will see in the images below, Neil could not contain himself and had to photograph too! So, here they are….Can’t wait for the big day in October!


Shannon (my husband…the guy in the blue jacket) tolerated me that weekend. Thanks for dragging the equipment around!!!


Is that a lens, or a weapon. That lens put my little 70-200mm to shame.


Modern Tintypes with FMU Students


Yes, it has been many months since I have made a blog posts. I can list a million reasons why, but the excuses are not good enough, so I won’t. So, I will just get back to blogging!

One of the great things about working (and attending!) Francis Marion University is the University’s commitment and emphasis on experiential learning outside of the classroom. Last year, I wrote and received a grant to take students to the Outer Banks of North Carolina so they could learn the modern tintype process as well as build and use a portrable darkroom. Part of the grant included the students exhibiting their work on campus, which they did this past March. It was a great experience and we all learned so much, mainly because we made a lot of mistakes, which seems to be a wonderful way of learning a new process.

For those not familiar with this process, here is a brief explanation:

There are 2 approaches to making a tintype. One is considered the classic or authentic method, while the other is called the modern tintype or gelatin dry plates. The authentic method grew in popularity during the American Civil War because they were cheaper and more lightweight than photographic methods that preceded the tintype. American soldiers and their family members could have their portraits made for less than 25 cents allowing them to possess a priceless memento while separated during the war. Even with the introduction of digital technology, there are photographers who still enjoy the results of this process. The authentic tintype methods involves coating an enameled metal plate with a solution of gun cotton, ether and alcohol. The plate is then dipped into a silver nitrate bath to sensitize the plate. The coated plate is then loaded into the camera and the exposure is taken. The plate is returned to the darkroom where it is developed in a ferrous sulphate solution until the image appears. It is then “fixed” in a bath of fixer so that it is no longer sensitive to light. While the classic tintype method is authentic to its creation, the chemicals required are toxic, quite expensive and highly sensitive.

The alternative to the authentic process is the modern tintype or the gelatin dry plate process. It is the successor to the “wet-plate” process, is less expensive and requires chemicals that are less toxic. A light sensitive liquid emulsion is coated onto a black metal plate. The liquid emulsion contains silver-halide crystals suspended in gelatin. When the emulsion has dried on the plate it can be loaded into the camera to make an exposure. The plate is then returned to the darkroom where it is developed in a special developer which makes the image a positive. Both tintype methods result in “first generation” prints, which eliminates the need for a negative used in conventional analog photography. Because the negative is eliminated the prints or plates come out with an image in reverse. This is especially noticeable if there are words in the image.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of photographers practicing these two tintype methods. Many would argue that these results could be created in Photoshop. Perhaps image makers reviving this process are searching for methods that show more of the artist’s hand in the final print.

In November of 2012, a group of FMU students traveled to Asheville, North Carolina to learn the wet-plate process (the authentic process). In the Fall of 2013, a group of FMU students traveled to the Outer Banks to experiment with the modern tintype process. One of the limits of these processes is that you must have a darkroom near by. To combat this, students created a darkroom (light tight box) portable enough to fit in the back of a van that was used on location in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Students photographed the large sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and then traveled historic HWY 12 to Ocracoke Island, where they continued their tintype experience.

For part of the exhibit, I collaborated with the students and made a modern tintype portrait of the students who went on the trip using a Bourke and James 8×10 camera…what a beast!


By the way, this is what happens when you try to do this process when it is hotter than 75 degrees. The emulsion melts off the plate, so it is definitely a tricky and tedious.

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Some of the images in this collage were contributed by FMU students who went on the trip. Thanks Tari Federer, Elizabeth Kinser, and Chelsea Avant!


The image at the top was not done in camera, but in the darkroom. I placed the leaves on top of the coated plate and exposed it to light using an enlarger.

Modern Tintypes with a 4×5 Camera

It’s been a few weeks, well maybe months since I have posted on the blog. Outside of teaching I have been experimenting with the Modern Tintype (also called Gelatin Dry Plate) Process using a 4×5 view camera. Last semester I received a grant from the University to take build a portable darkroom with my photo students. In a few weeks we will be testing it out in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In order to get the students going I had to do some initial tests myself. I have worked with the modern tintype process in the past using color slides in the enlarger as well as contact printing the image onto the plate via digital negative, but I had never tried to expose an image onto a plate using a 4×5 camera. I will be posting more detailed results soon, but I will give you a quick breakdown of what we will be using. I ordered a 4×5 converted plate as well as the pre-cut aluminum plates from Lund Photographics. I ordered the Tintype reversal developer from Rockland Colloid and I ordered the Kodak Fixer and Ag-Plus from B&H. You can make the developer yourself. Jill Enfield’s Alternative Process book has a recipe for the special reversal developer as well as an entire chapter dedicated to liquid emulsion applications. I got off to a bit of a rocky start because my images kept coming out as negatives. I was really frustrated. I experimented with quite a few variables to try and resolve the issue, but came to the conclusion that the developer just need an extra day or two to “ripen”. I used my sister and my niece as guinea pigs. My niece Bree actually took a few exposures of my sister Jill and I. You can tell we just aren’t very excited about being in front of the camera. Bree however…right at home. So, more details about the process to come, but here are a few initial tests.




There is a little monkey in the tree if you look closely…