Alternative photographic processes A-Z

Instructions and recipes on how to work in alternative photographic processes and non-silver techniques. Instructions are provided by photographers and teachers working in the process, written with a practical approach, so; enjoy learning a new process. Have fun! If you are new a good starting point is the cyanotype process and if you want an environmentally friendly process start with anthotypes.

Albumen prints

Replacing the salt print process by the 1840’s, albumen prints combine beaten egg whites with salt and potassium iodide for a higher definition photograph.

How-to do albumen prints


A fun and easy way to make images using juice from fruits, plants, flowers and vegetables as both sensitizer and pigment! Practiced by Sir William Herschel in the 1840’s, this method is very suited to photograms. Although anthotype prints are novel and unique, permanence of the image depends upon your choice of organic extract.

How-to do anthotypes

Bromoils & oil

Bromoils, oilprints, resinotypes and oleobroms: Early twentieth century processes which begins with a silver bromide print and ends with an oily or inked print of alluring elegance.

How-to print bromoil and oil

Cameraless photography

Cameraless can be combined with many of the other processes. It is the creation of an image without the use of a camera, such as a photogram, where an image is placed on a coated surface (with for example cyanotype or anthotype emulsion) instead of a negative, or a chemigram where chemicals are poured on the surface to create an image.

How-to create images cameraless

Carbon and carbro

Patented in 1846 by Joseph Swan, carbon prints typically utilize a pigmented tissue, potassium dichromate , and gelatin to create images of amazing beauty and longevity. Carbro printing follows much of the same procedure as carbon printing while utilizing a bromide paper.

How-to do carbon and carbro prints


Photographs are made by pouring or painting developing liquid onto photopaper, creating dreamlike images.

How-to create chemigrams

Chlorophyll process

The image is created by blocking sunlight with a negative on a leaf or plant. The chlorophyll process is also called ‘nature prints’.

How-to make chlorophyll prints


Based upon Sir John Herschel’s gold printing process, Dr. Mike Ware will carefully guide you through a process of making prints which display hues from delicate reds and pinks to blues and blacks.

How-to do chrysotypes


The cyanotype, also known as a blueprint, is considered among the easiest of all the historical methods. Dating from 1842, this classic Prussian blue process is a great place for both beginners and accomplished artists alike to explore. Cyanotypes are economical, permanent, have few pitfalls, and are versatile in that a variety of toning effects are possible.

How-to do cyanotypes


Considered among the original of alternative processes, daguerreotypes possess a look, feel, and beauty unlike any other historical method. Not for the faint of heart or the ill-equipped, those desiring to explore the rewards of this endeavor must exercise a high level of responsibility and caution.

How-to do daguerrotypes

Gelatin silver prints

Gelatin silver prints, or gelatin dry-plate, appeared on the scene in the 1880’s, replacing the wet-plate process and revolutionizing the photographic industry. It has remained the standard for silver halide photography. Here we explore hand coated paper and look for ways to incorporate other alternative process with silver gelatin printing.

How-to create gelatin silver prints

Gum bichromates

Gum bichromate and casein pigment printing utilizing water-based colors are but two among several forms of dichromate techniques resulting in expressive monochrome and full-color imagery.

How-to do gum bichromates


As the name implies, gumoils transforms a gum print into an oil-based image through labor intensive rubbing, wiping, and etching. In most cases, a positive matrix takes the place of the usual negative employed by other processes.

How-to print with gumoil

Image transfers and lifts

Transfer is a term used for a myriad of ways to transfer a printed image from one medium (i.e. paper, metal, etc.) to another surface such as paper or fabric. The result of the transfer creates unique, ethereal imagery reminiscent of monotypes produced in traditional printmaking. A lift is where an image is lifted from one surface to another, for example utilizing Polaroid peel-apart films, an artist can lift or separate a developed print and join the image to another surface, such as paper. In a transfer, the artist takes the negative portion while still in development and, using a brayer, presses the image onto a desired surface.

How-to do transfers and lifts


Working with reflected light in the long, infrared wave range can produce images of unexpected results with surreal visual effects. Infrared photographs have a spectacular glow and luminance, where highlights are usually diffused and contrast can be pronounced.

How-to create infrared prints

Kallitypes & vandykes

Although both silver and iron are required for Kallitypes and Van Dykes, the former is a bit more expensive and labor intensive of the two siblings. Depending on paper and toning, images can run the range of black, sepia, and beautiful rich browns. Extra care must be taken to ensure permanence of the print.

How-to do kallitypes and vandykes

Liquid emulsion

With a liquid silver emulsion applications can be made to a variety of surfaces such as tile, glass, pottery, wood, canvas, stainless steel and coated metals. Brushing, dipping, and spraying are among the techniques employed for applying the emulsion to three-dimensional surfaces.

How-to create liquid emulsion prints

Lith prints

Using a lith developer, this delightful technique generally overexposes a silver print which is then developed in the diluted developer. Lith photographs display a wonderful luminance. Success with lith printing can depend upon your choice of paper, the handling of the negative, and several other key factors.

How-to do lith prints

Lumen prints

Using a UV source, such as the sun, make delicate contact photographs and photograms using old or fogged silver gelatin paper. No development required! Just fix, tone, and enjoy!

How-to create lumen prints

Mordancage process

Also known as etch-bleach process, this rare and slightly esoteric process physically manipulates the silver gelatin print through acid bleaching, rubbing, and lifts. Images appear dreamlike, far removed from reality.

How-to create mordancages


Predating the bromoil method, oil printers rely upon enlarged negatives which are placed in contact with paper coated with dichromate and gelatin. Some oil printers express a bit more ease to this approach over the related and more common bromoil technique. Oil printing is also known as the Rawlins’ process.

How-to create oil prints


Copper photogravures, solarplates, photo intagio, polymer gravures and heliogravures are all printmaking techniques, where a photograph is set in a plate, the plate inked and the image transferred to a paper.

How-to print photogravures


A technique developed in the mid 19th century, by which images are photographically transferred to a matrix (either an aluminum plate or, less frequently, a stone), and printed by hand. A classic combination of photography and printmaking employing a variety of skills.

How-to do photolithography


No photo paper? No worries. Just go and find some leaves! Learn how to contact print onto flat plant or vegetable matter using a positive intermediate. Let your creativity soar!

How-to do photosynthesis

Polaroid SX-70 manipulations

Referring to either or both the Polaroid SX-70 camera manufactured throughout the 1970’s and the celebrated SX-70 Integral films, beautiful image manipulations can be achieved through the use of this engaging camera/film technology.

How-to do SX-70 manipulations


Salt printing, originally developed by Fox Talbot and typically practiced until the 1850’s, combines salt, silver nitrate, and a UV light source to produce delightful reddish brown images.

How-to print saltprints


Eggs, ammonium bichromate, and a variety of pigments including acrylics come together for an exercise of multiple printing under a UV light. Created by the late Peter Frederick, this process is suitable for printing on synthetic materials such as Yupo.

How-to create temperaprints

Wetplate collodions

Wetplate, or wet collodion process dates from 1851 through the work of Frederick Archer. A glass plate is coated with cellulose nitrate, an iodide, and silver nitrate. The plate is then exposed and processed while still wet. The tintype is a version of wetplate which utilizes a sheet of black painted metal.

How-to do wetplate collodions


For more than half a century, Woodburytypes were a standard in high quality photographic reproduction. Related to the intaglio printing process, Woodburytypes employ materials such as gelatin and pigment, and historically required the use of a hand press.

How-to make woodburytypes

15 thoughts on “Alternative photographic processes A-Z”

  1. What is the correct category for an image made with a digital camera, printed using a digital printer on a non absorbing paper surface, manipulated while wet by various means and tools. then copied digitally and printed digitally possibly repeating this process one or more times? Is anyone else doing this? It has tremendous potential!

  2. Pingback: Lockdown Lumen Pt 2 - Artists around the World Printing with Sunlight - 35mmc
  3. Pingback: Lockdown Lumen - Artists around the World Printing with Sunlight - 35mmc
  4. Hello, I’m searching for a very specific printing technique for my term work if any one help me I appreciate. What I’m looking is to transfer an image over a terrain model which is made by CNC by using digital elevation model. I guest I should use a photo emulsion cover onto this irregular surface, print the image over a transparent material (glass or pvc) then put over the terrain model and expose under 500w halogen or something like this. Does it work? Do you have ant suggestion for me to find a proper way to do? Best regards.

  5. @antonio: Yes, agree. It’s not a process, but a means of taking photographs. A lot of artists use pinholes to achieve different effects in their alt. proc. work, so that’s why we’ve made and exception and listed it here.

  6. “Pinholes” It is not a Photographic Process. But a Technique Fotográ the possibility of using different “Photographic Processes” ..
    Pinhole Photography is essentially the appropriation of the Image Formation Technique, in order to obtain Photographic Images. For this, some of the proposals listed in the photographic processes can be used

  7. Crazy question: I have found that I can get chemicals for dental photo processing on the second hand market. These include developer and fixer. I can get gallon jugs for less than $10.
    Can these be used for B&W film??

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