Alternative Photographic Processes

The term Alternative Photographic Process refers to any non-traditional or non-commercial photographic printing process. They are often described as ‘historical’, ‘non-silver’, ‘unconventional’ and even ‘obsolete’ as they hardly had any commercial use. Most of these processes were invented during the latter half of the 19th century when in 1842, Sir George Frederick William Herschel discovered that light transformed ferric ammonium citrate into the ferrous state, which could then be used to make permanent images by reduction of the noble metal salt to the inert state. This laid the foundation for other innovators like William Willis, Nicole Hunt, Alphonse Louis Poitevin, John Pouncy and others who came later.

The most extraordinary thing about these processes is that the resulting images have a painterly quality due to the mixing and coating of the emulsion by hand. There is a brushstroke effect just like in the painting as well as small inconsistencies resulting from hand processing.