We headed to the Melton Original Portrait exhibition, showing Tintype photography, a traditional mode of portrait photography used in the 1850s.

The men behind last weekend's event were Barney and Trevor Melton who took over space at Covent Garden's, Icetank Studio. The father and son duo have been working on tintype photography since 2015, captivated by the blend of science and art that goes into each photograph. 

The exhibition showed a collection of large tonal black and white portraits, which we were quick to learn were the 'Faces of Nottingham' taken over the course of a year in a pub in central Nottingham.

There were no smiles seen here, as the subjects were asked to keep a blank expression, partly due to restrictions of the camera as it would be difficult to be still for that amount of time and smile. But also because Barney was interested in documenting what humans look like naturally.

Centered in the room was a large-format technical camera, the same kind that Frederick Scott Archer and other 19th Century photographers would have used in their time.

Of course, we were curious to see how this all worked and so we roped in Mikee, our Berwick Street and Coal Drops Yard store manager, to put his face in front of the lens. 

The skill in the photography technique is mastering the chemistry, lighting, and careful timing to create the tintype which is all-important.

Each Tintype image is developed directly onto a metal plate placed in the camera. These plates are individually prepared and must be exposed and developed within just a few minutes or they are ruined. 

If you'd like to see more of their work or be kept up to date for future Tintype portrait events, be sure to follow their Instagram.