She and I talked about following dreams, or not. In her Australian accent she said, “People always say to me, like, ‘Oh, I always wanted to be a photographer, but I never did.” I replied how people tell me they always dreamed of writing something, but never got around to it. She’s someone who has followed her dream. Photography isn’t her profession; she works in a law office in Charleston. But she loves photography and went after it, with books, classes and training. Her creative interest moved naturally into the history of photography, wanting to learn more, discovering everything about the early processes.
Now she has her side business, her passion, authentic tintype photography. She explains the collodion process and chemicals as easily as a chef could share a recipe. She demonstrates the process for interested visitors to the reenactments and other events in the Charleston area.
Like all hobbies – think fishing, golf, quilting, photography – the more one learns, the more one needs: bigger, more expensive, more professional. This happened to the Charleston Tintypist. Outdoor events can be difficult. At one event we were both struggling with the wind. My book posters smashed to the ground while her canopy and chemicals were turned over, lost and destroyed. She knew she had to come up with a better plan. She needed a trailer. How could she afford it?
She wrote a query letter to the Arts Council, outlining her process and what she hoped to accomplish with this plan. They replied with an invitation to submit a grant proposal. Nervous, she wrote the grant and submitted it. She waitied. Writers, does this sound familiar? She received good news, was granted the money and set off on her Craig List Quest. After several disappointments, she realized how popular little vintage trailers are. She finally landed one in Jacksonville, FL. She installed a trailer hitch on her car and hit the road, grant money in hand. Driving the trailer home was a first for her; she’d never hauled anything with a car before, and it was scary.
She discovered that her great find was moldy behind the paneling, floorboards rotted, and she located the persistent leak. She works in a law office and makes tintypes. She’s never done any kind of remodeling or carpentry. She studied You Tubes! She pried off the paneling, removed and replaced the flooring, caulked leaks, took out the kitchen and installed a light tight dark room and built storage for her chemicals and equipment. Her cute little set up brings many strangers to tintype to visit under her striped canopy and learn about her amazing art. She didn’t think about it, she just did it.
If you have a passion, why excuse it then make excuses? If you have a passion, you can find a way to do the unknown, the scary, the exciting, and passion will survive and thrive. Ask the Charleston Tintypist how that’s working for her.