23ABC Community Connection


Artisan photographer gives Whiskey Flat guests a view of the past... literally

Whiskey Flat Days features historical artisans showcasing the past, including photographer Rob Gervais and his tintyping.
Rob Gervais, tintyper
Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 18:24:55-04

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — Whiskey Flat Days are happening right now in Kernville, California, and in addition to fair rides and food, the festivities also include a look back into the past.

At the Whiskey Flat encampment, visitors are transported back in time 150 years, where skilled artisans who preserve the ways of the past have set up all around Whiskey Flat to show people how life used to be. One of those artisans is photographer Rob Gervais.

If you visit Gervais at Whiskey Flat and want to preserve the memory in style, turn off the filters, put down the phone, and say 'cheese' to an authentic tintype instead.

Gervais practices an art called ferrotyping, commonly known as tintyping. It's a method for using chemicals to develop photographic images onto thin metal plates.

"I am acting as an itinerant photographer, a traveling photographer," explained Gervais. "Post-Civil War, there were a lot of photographers going from town to town, carrying their equipment with them, doing tintype photographs of people from town to town."

One thing Gervais does that the itinerant photographers of the late 1800's and early 1900's most likely did not is provide the tintypes he creates to the people for free just because he enjoys the experience.

"I like the camaraderie of the group. You know, it's hard, I slept here last night. It's cold," said Gervais, "but the people are fabulous."

Gervais is only one of the historical artisans guests will find at this year's Whiskey Flat Days, going on now in Kernville through Sunday, February 19.