Why I Love Alternative Process Photography
In 2012, when one wants to print a photograph, it's easy to get tunnel-visioned into thinking that there are few options for output. Pull any person off of the street and they'll almost assuredly tell you that the one and only way to print an image is to do so with an inkjet printer. Fortunately for photographers looking to spice things up, the majority couldn't be further from the truth. In actuality, there are more ways to lay down an image on a viewing surface than ever have been! Silver gelatin, lith, van dyke brown, cyanotype, salt print, lumen print, collodion print-out, platinum/palladium, carbon transfer, dye transfer, chromogenic, ultrastable/3 color carbon, cibachrome (recently discontinued), photogravure, mordencage, are but a few of the options available. If any of these printing processes aren't ringing a bell, it's because many of these fabulous print options are alternative photographic processes.
The fact of the matter is, I love alternative process photography! The prints are hand made, meticulously controlled, with some bearing closer resemblance to more traditional artistic processes. Now in the early 21st century, alt processes are seeing their second resurgence, and here's why:
Now was that a different kind of print or what?! The ability to control and consistently output an image is a beautiful thing, one that modern printers excel at (until your $8000/gal ink runs out). One thing I feel automated printing leaves out is craft. Yes, it takes skill to operate the printer and optimize the image for print, but is that close to even the simplest of alternative processes? Does the process matter? I'd really like to know what you guys think, be sure to comment below.