Instagram before there was instagram

Whenever I am in NYC I scan the museum and gallery listings to see what photography exhibits are on offer. This past weekend after I was done with ALTNYC (post to come, I promise!), I zoomed up 5th Avenue at 103rd Street to the Museum of the City of New York to see London Street Photography.

Photography + history -- bless my little geeky heart, I was in heaven.

You know that I'm just learning how to photograph, right? Well my next adventure is satisfying my desire for the spontaneity that is street photography. 

At either end of our two weeks of cottaging, we spent a few days in Toronto getting our fix of the gritty city. One of those days was spent at the Junction Flea. Modelled of course after the Brooklyn Flea, the Junction Flea is a perfect Toronto version. 

Except of course for the hipster couple standing on the sidelines judging everyone else's outfits as they walked by. Well, the Judgy McJudgersons got a bit of a Raincoast Cottage smackdown when I, sotto voce of course, told them that "everyone that morning put on an outfit that looked good to them so lay off". 

But Sandra, you ask, what does the Flea have to do with street photography? Stay with me people, I'm getting there.

While at the Flea we had a photo taken of the girl. Not just ANY photo - a tintype. 

So now we have photography + history + access. Yes, people, what also warms my heart is anything like Instagram that puts something that used to be exclusive into the hands of the people. And tintypes were THAT back in the 1850's. They were cheap, fast, and didn't need a negative. The photos could be cut up into various sizes and they were hardy - they could be mailed and taken about.

For the first time photography was available to the working classes. For the first time instead of stiff, formal photos, we had relaxed and spontaneous ones. For the first time we had photos of regular folk. And for the first time, just like Instagram, we had a range in quality of photos. I wonder what the tintype version of the Instagram latte was?

Here's the girl. The tintype is about 3x2".

The photograph was taken by The Tintype Studio who like their predecessors 160 years ago set up at fairs and fleas and carnivals purveying their craft. For paid work during the week they are modern photographers but for fun, it's tintypes on the weekends. Love anyone who carries on an old tradition.

How about you? Any old school crafts or techniques that you want to learn or already do?