Behind every Civil War portrait photograph lies a question that the person paying the bill had to consider: Which format do I choose? Two primary options were available. Hard plates, in the form of an ambrotype, tintype, or, early in the war, a daguerreotype. Or albumen paper prints, notably the carte de visite. How a sitter came to make the choice is almost impossible to know. Popular culture, economics and other factors offer clues as to how they might have decided the format best suited to their needs.
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