This website is all about historical photographic methods in use today – that means mixing emulsions and coating paper by hand. Learn how to print photographs with these techniques, and share your experiences with others. We are a non-profit organisation and rely on contributions from supporting members. To learn more about how to do the processes, take a look around.
How it all started
Oh dear… I never imagined sitting here writing an ‘About us’ page… But… many people email me to say they love the site, and ask ‘who runs it’ and ‘why do you do this’, so a page was needed to explain.
It all started when I – Malin Fabbri (previously Malin Hylén) completed my MA in Design Studies with Alternative photography as my selected subject, at Central St. Martin’s School of Design in London in January 2000. I spent about 2 years researching how images are perceived, how they can be used and if there is a difference in the perception between ordinary stock photography, retouched stock photography and alternative photography. The process I used to do my research was Cyanotypes.
As you can imagine, stock photography was easy to get hold of – it’s everywhere, and making Cyanotypes for the comparison was really good fun. The artefact and the comparisons was the easy bit done – it was time to write the thesis.
As far as the theory went it was hard to get hold of written material on the art of Cyanotypes. There were several books on the chemical process – but not so many dealt with the art of Cyanotypes. Apart from a few dusty books (I was privileged enough to have access to London Printing Library and read a copy of Anna Atkins book on Cyanotypes) I largely used the internet to do my research. Thanks to the internet I was able to ‘talk’ directly to artists and some of them had websites, so I was able to see some of their work (remember this was the days o slow modems, and the discussion of wether images should be used on the web, or if they slowed it down too much was going on).
What was very striking was that everyone I contacted was VERY enthusiastic, sending me information, answering my questions and sharing their knowledge. Their enthusiasm really kept me going for the two years I worked on this project. When it all came to an end, I felt devastated at the thought of putting the results in the loft to gather dust. I had worked hard on collating all the information – some very hard to get hold of – and felt I had to share it with others – like people had shared it with me.
The easiest way to share all the knowledge was the internet. I bought the domain name Cyanotypes.com on the 5 April 2000 and published my thesis there. Some artist surfed “the net” and found the site somehow, and asked me if I wanted to publish their images there too. I said ‘yes – why not?’ and it all grew from there.
I never imagined it would take off like this. In October 2002 – a year and a half later – there were 50 artists represented in the galleries on the site, and at the time of writing – December 2014 – more have been added, and the number is well over 400. And of course many use processes other than Cyanotypes. Even though there has always been other processes on the site, the name was misleading, so we changed the name to AlternativePhotography.com. There is now information on many other processes in the alternative photography process span.
So, basically this is now a site full of information on anything to do with Alternative photography and processes. The site makes no money and doesn’t ask for any money (but if you really want to give it away – we won’t say no). It relies on the users (you) to contribute and share knowledge, images and information.
Help us grow even more
This site is a lot of work, but we don’t charge for it, and we don’t get paid. We do this because we love doing it – and we also believe information should be free. We want to do photography as it should be: hands on, fun and inspiring. We want to make it easier to connect with other photographers working with alternative photographic processes. But we really appreciate if you help us with the running costs of the site. Please click here to help funding the site.
If you have things you want to share, maybe you are one of the artists that want to add your images and get your own gallery page click here to find out how to post images. If you have written a thesis of your own, or have some great toning tips, a recipe for a process or anything else you want to share, please take a look here on how to contribute information to the site. And finally, we’re always interested in hearing your view on the site, something that doesn’t work, something you love, something you hate or if you have a good idea on content, please email us your feedback.