I'm on an Alternative Process Kick!
It may have been this past weekend's 24+ hour carbon printing spree, or the buzz from reading three different books on it, but whatever it was, I'm stuck on alternative process photography.
If you're reading this and have never made any sort of print by hand, I encourage you to try it yourself some time. There's a sense of accomplishment to it, maybe even a hint of pride that comes with knowing that start to finish, the reason the print turned out the way it did, was all because of your own actions. And when working with film from the start, even the negative used for printing was meticulously controlled, from concept to finished print. Messed up a print? In alternative process, you can't blame a printer, a monitor, paper stock, or brand of ink; at the end of the day, the success of the process depends on you and your experience.
Let's take the following video playlist for example, featuring Norman Gryspeerdt (1911-1998). Credited with the revival of Bromoil Printing, a previously lost alternative process, Mr. Gryspeerdt was a true master of his craft. With over 50 years of this laborious and contemplative photographic process under his belt, Gryspeerdt guides the viewer from theory to finished print, in an incredibly detailed, informative hour of video.
If you're not one for lengthy video, start at #3 on the playlist, the "action" starts there.
So, what did you think of the videos? A little slow for your tastes maybe? Like 'em or hate 'em, you can definitely appreciate the time, talent, and creation that's being displayed with the alternative processes. And though bromoil is by far one of the most labor-intensive, it's a fine example of just what alternative processes are doing for me right now. In these now fading photographic techniques there's no right or wrong, heck there are hardly any rules to speak of! And in 2012 where we're snapping, uploading, and sharing more images per week than were created in the entire 19th century, it's good to have images that can stand out from the crowd.
Hope you enjoyed this little gaze into just one of the scores of different processes geared at expressing a photograph outside the norm. And again, if you haven't tried alternative processes, they're really fun, and most of them can be done with the tools you already have handy (plus the sun).
As always, long live film!