In todays photographic process we use mediums such as digital, 35mm film or medium format film. However in the 19th century during the Civil these mediums did not exists. “Wet-plate collodion process dominated photographic production in the mid-19th century.” Tintype photography was a popular medium to use during the Civil War, being able to develop portraits on metal prints.
In the video, Drew kept saying that this kind of process allows photographers to capture the humanity of the person during war. War can take the humanity out of people and with these photos he’s able to capture what left of it in them. The people that they really are out of war.
He takes this personally because he is in control of exposure, lighting and time, and sometimes he’s not able to execute the perfect picture. The sense of rush makes these captures as real a they can get because its the real expression of soldiers in combat and the possible thoughts they may have during the picture. These soldiers getting their portraits done could be thinking about their families or if today is their last day.
In the army, soldiers carry dog tags, it would be interesting if soldiers carried a tintype of themselves, and since more than one can be developed using the process, they can also be sent to the families.