This unique set of tintype portraits was selected as a student spotlight in the Magnum Photography Awards 2016. Discover more inspiring work from all 44 of the winners, finalists, jurors’ picks and student spotlights.

Tintypes were the primary form of photography during the American Civil War—a time when the country was deeply divided by both geography and beliefs. Soldiers often posed for their tintype in military uniforms and with their weaponry.

Civil War-era tintypes

Recently, the debate in the United States surrounding gun control has taken on disturbingly dire tones with veiled threats of violence from presidential candidates representing just one instance among many in which the rhetoric has gone from over-heated to outright dangerous.

In an attempt to explore one aspect of gun culture, photographer Kari Wehrs set up a darkroom tent and her tintype gear at known target-shooting locations in the Arizona desert. In these makeshift laboratories, Wehrs created participants’ tintype portraits—which her subjects then used as a temporary shooting target.

Her use of this antiquated form of photography in contemporary time elaborates on the connection between past and present: particularly poignant in an America that is exhibiting vast divides not only with respect to gun culture but many, many other subjects…