Visual artist Carla Alexandra Rodriguez was studying at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design when she first witnessed the black arts (better known these days as Civil War-era tintype or wet plate photography).
With a grant from the state of Minnesota, Rodriguez was able to buy the necessary equipment and learn the foundational elements of tintype photography before launching her own business, Blkk Hand (the name is inspired by an 1800s nickname for the dark stains created by silver nitrate left on photographers’ ungloved hands)
Rodriguez takes appointments in her St. Paul studio, but also uses a mobile setup with a portable darkroom for market pop-ups and private events. “The process in itself is a demo, so guests are getting to see everything happen before their eyes and it usually draws a crowd because it’s something most people have never seen before.”
Rodriguez works with events of all types and sizes and can typically process four to five portraits each hour.
“Tintype is a one-shot deal, but the process actually captures a different spectrum of light than we typically see with the naked eye. It’s a very honest process, and it captures so much detail. It’s really stunning. The result is a hyper unique, handmade image that’s going to last.”