Meet the moderators of the AlternativePhotography.com Facebook group

Many of you (30 000 as of April 2021) are already members of the AlternativePhotography.com Facebook group. Meet the moderators – the heroes that keep the group on topic.


In the past we tried forums running forums – that got littered with spam and an unmoderated group – same story, then volunteers stepped in and started moderating the AlternativePhotography.com Facebook group, now we can all enjoy a spam-free on topic alt. proc. group, thanks to Spiffy Tumbleweed, Crystal Edwards, John Brewer, Jalo Porkkala, and our latest addition to the group Dennis Humphrey. We are very grateful. Here you can get to know them.

Spiffy Tumbleweed

Spiffy Tumbleweed at the Houston Cyanotype Workshop
Spiffy Tumbleweed at the Houston Cyanotype Workshop

What has the AlternativePhotography.com community and Facebook group meant to you?

Spiffy Tumbleweed: It is not an exaggeration to say that the alternative photography website and this Facebook group and the people on it have changed my life and led me to a new way to practice art and visual expression. I have met some great people here who have become long term close friends even though many I have not yet met in person. I have had the chance to meet influential people in the field such as Mike Ware, and to learn so much from so many people. This website, FB group, and community has enabled me to show and publish my work worldwide, to teach, and to share with others.

Any learnings (good or bad) from being a moderator?

Spiffy Tumbleweed: I’ve learned that you need to have thick skin. I strongly believe that the decision to exclude nudity from this group was a correct decision if we are to be a resource for all ages and cultures worldwide, but it sure does lead to a lot of strangers calling you a prude at best, and worse on occasion. The nice thing about being a moderator in this position is that if attacks become too personal and inappropriate, directed against any of our moderators, those folks get booted and banned and don’t cause problems anymore. We have nearly 30,000 members and if 1/10 of one percent don’t know how to act, we can get along without those 30 people.

What sort of posts do you appreciate the most?

Spiffy Tumbleweed: I love it when a post brings up questions and discussions and a sharing of ideas and information.

I see posts of processes that I have not seen before or tried and I like it when they send me off in search of more information and occasionally cause me to attempt to try my hand at that process. I consider those posts to be gifts.

I also appreciate posts that are amazing and beautiful and are true works of art, and these arrive almost daily.

Which is your favorite alt. proc. process?

Spiffy Tumbleweed: We all remember our first and I still love cyanotype for its simplicity and my ability to sun print out in the front yard. It’s also the process that I have taught the most and I always have some chemistry mixed up. My favorite from recent years would be mordancage, I love the limited ability to control the process, and when my wife asks what I am doing I tell her I’m just ruining perfectly good prints.

See Spiffy Tumbleweed’s gallery here.

Crystal Edwards

Chrystal Edwards portrait

What has the AlternativePhotography.com community and Facebook group meant to you?

Crystal Edwards: I love that I have finally found a group of people who think in the same manner as myself. My family is made up of mostly academic, book learning folks, where I am a hands-on learner, so I was always the odd, and usually very grubby, dirty, covered with paint or glue mess, kid out. If I had a dollar for every educator who had my siblings before me in school saying in exasperation “Crystal, why can’t you be more like your sister! What’s wrong with you!”, I’d be a money rich person, but instead, I’m an experience-rich person, with alt printing as part of that and that has made all the difference.

I don’t think I’d have stayed with photography for 30 years if it was all just black and white darkroom prints where anyone can get the result if they just follow the same formula (Yes, I know that is simplified).
I get excited learning the history of the processes, especially from people who can actually can do the long tedious book learning parts of it and then share that in the community. I am so grateful that they share their knowledge in a way that I can absorb it. It gets my mental gears moving. I love that I can be scrolling along in the Alt page and find someone doing something just amazing… Every Single Day! And it’s been like that for years, and I’m sure it will be for years to come, because the members are so clever and interesting.

Any learnings (good or bad) from being a moderator?

Crystal Edwards: I learned that being a moderator goes beyond on-line. There is nothing like walking around PhotoLA and overhearing yourself being talked about in your moderator presence! I’ve had to become more confident in being a stickler for the rules and not let male photographers intimidate me. Sometimes, it’s hard to do one’s own art process when seeing so much beautiful and well-done art when doing the job of a moderator, It can make one feel a bit lacking in talent from time to time.

What sort of posts do you appreciate the most?

Crystal Edwards: I like when people share their failures that lead to successes, and even ones that don’t.

“I like when people post something that was the result of “What would happen If I did this” actions. I like when people share their downs as well as their ups.”

Often online, we only see what people want to project as their best selves and that can make the rest of us feel less competent, less worthy, and untalented. I like when people explain how they got to the place where they made their own artistic leap of faith.

Which is your favorite alt. proc. process?

Crystal Edwards: Oh, dichromates (gum, casein, gelatin) and Carbon by far! I love that they are beastly processes, but also that they are really simple in their concept. I love how they can be manipulated with what one puts in as pigment, what paper one uses, how one handles the processing and then the magic of things not going to plan. I love the possibility of things failing, and sometimes, spectacularly! But, then, seeing what can be done to take what has been produced and figure out how to make it work, or build upon the catastrophe. I rarely throw a print in the trash straight away. Even the fails become a base for something… And of course, one can print in Color!

See Crystal Edward’s gallery here.

Jalo Porkkala

Portrait of Jalo Porkkala
Portrait of Jalo Porkkala with his Daguerreotype camera.

What has the AlternativePhotography.com community and Facebook group meant to you?

Jalo Porkkala: It seems to me that alternative photographers are their own breed, and definitely not a dying one. As the processes can be complex it’s good to have a supportive network for understanding what is being talked about and consulting for a wide range of issues. And of course for visualizing great implementations of handmade photography online.

Any learnings (good or bad) from being a moderator?

Jalo Porkkala: Moderators’ work can be tricky at times, with mediation and interpretation of rules, accepting new members, etc. But it can also be rewarding and eye-opening.

“One will learn new things all the time as variations of processes evolve, especially when historical methods combine with modern technology.”

What sort of posts do you appreciate the most?

Jalo Porkkala: For me, it’s great to see artists bending their creativity when using these processes. We see many inspiring posts here; the most important thing is that members can feel the group their own and be part of the community, getting pleasure from presenting their own work, sharing their ways of working and receiving instructions from others.

Which is your favorite alt. proc. process?

Jalo Porkkala: In my teaching work I’ve had the opportunity to try several different alternative processes, and I can’t set one or two of them as my absolute favorites… each one has its own look that can support the content of a certain kind of image. In recent years, I have personally worked mainly with the Daguerreotype because I feel it supports my personal expression – although it is technically very challenging and the progress is slow.

See Jalo Porkkala’s gallery here.

John Brewer

Portrait of John Brewer

What has the AlternativePhotography.com community and Facebook group meant to you?

John Brewer: The alternative community has been a huge resource to me, much of my knowledge has come from interacting with others here.

Any learnings (good or bad) from being a moderator?

John Brewer: Fortunately, working with the other moderators here and member reported posts the Facebook group runs smoothly as it should keeping it family-friendly and spam-free making it a joy to moderate here.

What sort of posts do you appreciate the most?

John Brewer: I also enjoy looking at others’ work on the Facebook group. Being a moderator means I read most posts and I never cease to be amazed at the creative work members do but I do have a soft spot for gum and wetplate in particular, not surprisingly!

Which is your favorite alt. proc. process?

John Brewer: I have worked in alternative photography for about 25 years after finding William Crawford’s book, The Keepers of Light. I’ve tried many of the alternative/historical processes but the two that are close to my heart are monochrome gum bichromate and wetplate collodion, both of which I teach. Unfortunately with the COVID pandemic, I’ve not been able to get to my studio so wetplate hasn’t really been possible this year. I have, however, printed gum as I have a UV box at home.

Dennis Humphrey

(Recently retired as moderator)

Portrait of Dennis Humphrey
Portrait of Dennis Humphrey.

What has the AlternativePhotography.com community and Facebook group meant to you?

Dennis Humphrey: It’s a place I can go to find articles and information on all historical processes and see artist galleries. It’s also a community that includes recent work shared by those who have mastered these processes and those who are just beginning to explore them.

Any learnings (good or bad) from being a moderator?

Dennis Humphrey: We seem to get about 15-20 membership requests per day in the Facebook group; I’m amazed at how much interest there is for alternative historical processes.

There are basically two simple membership questions to answer. It’s surprising how many don’t seem to bother to read them nor answer them satisfactorily.

What sort of posts do you appreciate the most?

Dennis Humphrey: There are numerous alternative processes, some of which I know little about. So, it’s nice when someone gives us an idea of the process; it demystifies it so we can learn and better appreciate the work involved.

“I like to see members post questions about issues they are having and see others offer suggestions and advice. I also enjoy viewing experimental work that steps outside of, and extends, the traditional process.”

I find it fascinating that our global group includes 30,000 interested persons of many languages and nationalities.

Which is your favorite alt. proc. process?

Dennis Humphrey: I enjoy making cyanotype and wet cyanotype botanicals or photograms, as well as gum bichromates, or a combination of these processes. Natural shapes and textures have always captivated my interest and I like pushing their simple representation into imagined worlds.

See Dennis Humphrey’s gallery here.

If you want to join, you can find the AlternativePhotography.com Facebook group here and if you’re not on Facebook, there are several more ways to connect to the alt. proc. community.

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