The Film

What does a camera from 1902 reveal about women today? Tintype photographer Margaret Muza shows what happens when you remove filters, Photoshop, and assumptions to really see the beauty of a single perfectly imperfect moment.

During two days of portraits and intense interviews, a group of Milwaukee women leaders reveal more than expected — their challenges, inspirations, stumbles and victories — and their hopes for those women who follow in their footsteps.

The first woman to open a bank in Wisconsin. A Black woman changing the face of Milwaukee marketing. A trailblazing lawyer who stepped away from Big Law. These women and others reveal what it takes to lead in our careers and in our communities — and why it’s so important for more women lead today.

Behind the Scenes

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The Artist

Margaret Muza is a Milwaukee-based tintype photography artist. Tintype photography was popular from the 1850s through the 1880s, and was often used to document soldiers and others throughout the American Civil War era.

Muza brings this historic process to the modern era, making one-of-a-kind images from her church studio in South Milwaukee as well as at people’s homes or other events. She was the Pfister Hotel artist-in-residence in 2017-2018.

“I think that this process just sees something a little bit different. I don’t know if it’s the chemistry. I don’t know if it’s the lenses. I don’t know if it’s because you’re holding still and you’re paused in this frozen moment. But I think it shows people a little bit of where they came from.”
– Margaret Muza

Learn More About Margaret Muza

Why Tintype Photography?

Tintype photography was popular before American women could vote. Why use it to showcase women leaders today?

With her 120-year-old camera, tintype photographer Margaret Muza shows what happens when you remove filters, Photoshop and assumptions to see modern women leaders exactly as they are. Every tintype is one of a kind. The image is made directly onto a metal or glass plate. Because there is no negative, each image is a “direct positive” — just like what happens when women lead.

Additionally, tintype photography was originally the province of men. So we were honored to feature Margaret Muza forging her own path in a traditionally male-dominated space.

What does a camera from 1902 reveal about women today?
What does it mean to be a Direct Positive – In an image or in life?
How do you feel about being absolutely unfiltered?
Welcome to The Direct Positive Project
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