On a recent trip to Astoria, Mr. Waite and I were walking back from dinner when we quite literally stumbled over a man on the sidewalk outside a tattoo parlor. He had a butane torch and was running it along the back of a small metal rectangle, held carefully in his fingertips. Beside him on a tripod was a tall antique box camera with a bowler hat. As he torched the metal, it tilted and I saw a greyscale, grainy portrait, lush with depth and rich with texture. I couldn't believe it: this man was making tintypes, right out in the open.
His name, we learned, is Giles Clement of Clement Photograph in Portland, Oregon. He was charming and talented and willing to describe each step of the photographic process while he worked. The results are beautifully ghostly -- I feel like I somehow stepped backward in time.