Veteran travels country, uses 1850s photo process to take unique images

Maggie's Moments

BLANDBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The country is Joseph Wyman Brown’s studio. People in cities and towns across America are his subjects. Taking pictures, using a process of photography from the 1850s, known as tintype, is his trade.

“Right now we have the tintypes from back in the 1860s,” Joseph explained. “They are still beautiful today so that gives it a hindsight that it will last forever. So these plates will outlive us.”

It’s amazing to think how someone back in the day came up with a way to capture a moment in time. A moment that will last forever.

Using his antique lens, Joseph has just one shot to get everything right.

“It’s still a mystery to me as far as how did they figure out back in the 1800s for this precision sharpness,” Joseph said.

Photography used to just be a hobby for Joseph.

It wasn’t until he served in Iraq that he started to see its importance. In addition to his job as an infantryman, he soon became the guy with the camera.

“It ended up turning into, ‘hey Brown you are good with the camera, take pictures while we are out here,'” Joseph said.

Then, a couple years after graduating college, he came up with a crazy idea to sell everything he owned, buy a van and take his work on the open road.

“There is a little bit of comfort in uncertainty now because I can wake up and make the day however I wish to be,” Joseph said. “I can be in a coffee shop and I can talk to that one person that happens to be next to me and that can potentially lead to a new opportunity.”

Joseph captures amazing photos using his pop-up studio that is set up in coffee shops, breweries, barber shops, and other businesses all across the United States.

“I never know how long I am going to spend in these spots,” Joseph said.

Every stop brings new people and new stories.

“I was in Ashville, NC during Thanksgiving and I actually had my Thanksgiving meal on top of a mountain,” he said.

However, just a couple months ago, Joseph hit a roadblock.

“I was in Nashville when my van unfortunately had its mishap and now I am back here building another one,” Joseph said.

Back at his home in Blandburg, PA, Joseph is now fixing up a new van, which was helped purchased with money he raised through a GoFundMe campaign. It is still available for donations to help him fix up the vehicle and get him back on the road.

Joseph plans to leave on June 7th. He’ll first stop again in Nashville, then to St. Petersburg, FL before heading west to Arizona.

He doesn’t know how long he’ll be traveling. For now he is taking it day by day and trying to see the entire country.

If you would like to get in touch with Joseph you can reach out to him on Instagram, Facebook or his website.

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