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Alternative Photographic Processes in New York State: Alternative Processes Today

A resource for those looking to explore and practice alternative photographic processes in New York state.
Alternative processes have greatly evolved since their inception in the 19th century. Artists over the years have experimented and tweaked these processes and transformed them into something new and compelling. They also use these processes because they add something purposeful to their work. The process is just as important as the images themselves. Below are examples of contemporary artists that have creatively utilized alternative processes in their work, and major institutions in New York state that have significant collections of these types of prints.

Joni Sternbach

Tintype from Joni Sternbach's

Theodore+Katherine. Joni Sternbach.

Joni Sternbach is a tintype artist based in New York City. Her portraits of surfers have recently been made into a book, “Surfland”, and has been extensively exhibited around the world. She works very closely with her subjects and develops her plates out of the back of her car immediately after photographing them. Developing tintypes on the beach presents a myriad of potential problems, but her plates are technically spotless.

Tintype from Joni Sternbach's

Winter in California. Joni Sternbach.

Joni Sternbach is a tintype artist based in New York City. Her portraits of surfers have recently been made into a book, “Surfland”, and has been extensively exhibited around the world. She works very closely with her subjects and develops her plates out of the back of her car immediately after photographing them. Developing tintypes on the beach presents a myriad of potential problems, but her plates are technically spotless.

Tintype from Joni Sternbach's

Robert+Wingnut. Joni Sternbach.

Joni Sternbach is a tintype artist based in New York City. Her portraits of surfers have recently been made into a book, “Surfland”, and has been extensively exhibited around the world. She works very closely with her subjects and develops her plates out of the back of her car immediately after photographing them. Developing tintypes on the beach presents a myriad of potential problems, but her plates are technically spotless.

Tintype from Joni Sternbach's

Cowgirl+Surfers. Joni Sternbach.

Joni Sternbach is a tintype artist based in New York City. Her portraits of surfers have recently been made into a book, “Surfland”, and has been extensively exhibited around the world. She works very closely with her subjects and develops her plates out of the back of her car immediately after photographing them. Developing tintypes on the beach presents a myriad of potential problems, but her plates are technically spotless.

Chris McCaw

Sunburned GSP #835(Mojave). Chris McCaw.

Chris McCaw is best known for his series entitled “Sunburn”. This body of work, and this new process, was born of an accident while creating paper negatives. McCaw was exposing a paper negative to a landscape and upon development he found that the sun had burned a hole in his paper. He then went on to exclusively photograph the sun for hours on end so that the paper negative would have burn marks along the sun’s path through the sky.

Sunburned GSP#552( Mojave/ expanding). Chris McCaw.

Chris McCaw is best known for his series entitled “Sunburn”. This body of work, and this new process, was born of an accident while creating paper negatives. McCaw was exposing a paper negative to a landscape and upon development he found that the sun had burned a hole in his paper. He then went on to exclusively photograph the sun for hours on end so that the paper negative would have burn marks along the sun’s path through the sky.

Sunburned GSP#486 (Sunset/sunrise, North Slope, Alaska). Chris McCaw.

Chris McCaw is best known for his series entitled “Sunburn”. This body of work, and this new process, was born of an accident while creating paper negatives. McCaw was exposing a paper negative to a landscape and upon development he found that the sun had burned a hole in his paper. He then went on to exclusively photograph the sun for hours on end so that the paper negative would have burn marks along the sun’s path through the sky.

Sunburned GSP#288(Pacific Ocean). Chris McCaw.

Chris McCaw is best known for his series entitled “Sunburn”. This body of work, and this new process, was born of an accident while creating paper negatives. McCaw was exposing a paper negative to a landscape and upon development he found that the sun had burned a hole in his paper. He then went on to exclusively photograph the sun for hours on end so that the paper negative would have burn marks along the sun’s path through the sky.

A grid of six distorted faces on a black background.

Untitled (Self Portrait #4), 2011. Sally Mann.

Sally Mann is a Virginia-based artist who has become a figure in the canon of modern photography. Over the decades Mann has created work reflecting on her family, the land, the body, and death. Works from her recent projects employ the wet-plate collodion process including Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings (The National Gallery of Art), The Flesh and the Spirit, and What Remains.

Matthew Brandt

Chromogenic Print from Matthew Brandt's

Lake Union, WA 4, Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt is a Los Angeles based artist who works with experimental processes in his photography. One of his more popular bodies of work features images of bodies of water, but the significance lies in his photographic process. After photographing the water and printing it using a chemical color processes, he then washes the prints in the water from the lake, river, or ocean. This creates a distortion to the physical image and the colors. What’s even more interesting is that each body of water creates very distinctive and diverse effects. He also continued a version of this process in his series “Dust”. Brandt collected images of buildings being demolished from public libraries and creates gum bichromate prints using dust swept from the location in the image.

Chromogenic Print from Matthew Brandt's

Lake Perris, CA 7, Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt is a Los Angeles based artist who works with experimental processes in his photography. One of his more popular bodies of work features images of bodies of water, but the significance lies in his photographic process. After photographing the water and printing it using a chemical color processes, he then washes the prints in the water from the lake, river, or ocean. This creates a distortion to the physical image and the colors. What’s even more interesting is that each body of water creates very distinctive and diverse effects. He also continued a version of this process in his series “Dust”. Brandt collected images of buildings being demolished from public libraries and creates gum bichromate prints using dust swept from the location in the image.

Chromogenic Print from Matthew Brandt's

Lake Isabella CA TC 5, Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt is a Los Angeles based artist who works with experimental processes in his photography. One of his more popular bodies of work features images of bodies of water, but the significance lies in his photographic process. After photographing the water and printing it using a chemical color processes, he then washes the prints in the water from the lake, river, or ocean. This creates a distortion to the physical image and the colors. What’s even more interesting is that each body of water creates very distinctive and diverse effects. He also continued a version of this process in his series “Dust”. Brandt collected images of buildings being demolished from public libraries and creates gum bichromate prints using dust swept from the location in the image.

Chromogenic Print from Matthew Brandt's

Crackling Lake, WY 5, Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt is a Los Angeles based artist who works with experimental processes in his photography. One of his more popular bodies of work features images of bodies of water, but the significance lies in his photographic process. After photographing the water and printing it using a chemical color processes, he then washes the prints in the water from the lake, river, or ocean. This creates a distortion to the physical image and the colors. What’s even more interesting is that each body of water creates very distinctive and diverse effects. He also continued a version of this process in his series “Dust”. Brandt collected images of buildings being demolished from public libraries and creates gum bichromate prints using dust swept from the location in the image.

Chromogenic Print from Matthew Brandt's

Rainbow Lake WY G1, G2, Matthew Brandt

Matthew Brandt is a Los Angeles based artist who works with experimental processes in his photography. One of his more popular bodies of work features images of bodies of water, but the significance lies in his photographic process. After photographing the water and printing it using a chemical color processes, he then washes the prints in the water from the lake, river, or ocean. This creates a distortion to the physical image and the colors. What’s even more interesting is that each body of water creates very distinctive and diverse effects. He also continued a version of this process in his series “Dust”. Brandt collected images of buildings being demolished from public libraries and creates gum bichromate prints using dust swept from the location in the image.

Ben Cauchi

Black light, 2015. Ben Cauchi.

Ben Cauchi is a Berlin-based photographer who uses experimental version of the wet-collodion and the ambrotype process. He creates his work entirely in the darkroom by printing photograms with a direct-positive process, so there is no formal imaging taking place at all. His work is highly geometric and abstract and he relies heavily on the science of the processes to create his images.

Cipher, 2015. Ben Cauchi.

Ben Cauchi is a Berlin-based photographer who uses experimental version of the wet-collodion and the ambrotype process. He creates his work entirely in the darkroom by printing photograms with a direct-positive process, so there is no formal imaging taking place at all. His work is highly geometric and abstract and he relies heavily on the science of the processes to create his images.

Untitled (11), 2017. Ben Cauchi.

Ben Cauchi is a Berlin-based photographer who uses experimental version of the wet-collodion and the ambrotype process. He creates his work entirely in the darkroom by printing photograms with a direct-positive process, so there is no formal imaging taking place at all. His work is highly geometric and abstract and he relies heavily on the science of the processes to create his images.

Untitled (13), 2017. Ben Cauchi.

Ben Cauchi is a Berlin-based photographer who uses experimental version of the wet-collodion and the ambrotype process. He creates his work entirely in the darkroom by printing photograms with a direct-positive process, so there is no formal imaging taking place at all. His work is highly geometric and abstract and he relies heavily on the science of the processes to create his images.

Langdon Coburn-BK Museum

 William Henry Fox Talbot "The Boulevards at Paris". Salted Paper Print. Met Collection. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Avenue

New York, NY

10038

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is arguably one of the most famous museums in the world with a massive collection of art and artifacts from all time periods. However, their photograph collection is among the smaller photographs collections. They have primarily collected the more historic processes, such as daguerreotypes and salted paper prints, however they have recently begun collecting more modern prints, such as those by 1970’s color photographer William Eggleston.

 

Brooklyn Museum

Lynn Hyman Butler, "Bowery in March". Cibachrome print. Brooklyn Museum Collection.

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY

11238

The Brooklyn Museum is primarily known for the contemporary art collection, which includes a number of photographs. They collect both historical prints as well as those done by more modern artists. The majority of their alternative process prints are the historical ones, however they have a few examples of modern artists working with these processes, including Lynn Hymen Butler pictured above.

 

New York Public Library Tintype

Jack Clements "3/20/1886". Tintype. New York Public Library Collection.

New York Public Library

476 5th Avenue

New York, NY

10018

The New York Public Library has a historically large photographic collection which focuses heavily on historic prints and alternative processes. The majority of their photography collection features images that depict the city of New York City, which many famous historic photographers documented. Their collection features cyanotypes, salted paper prints, wet-plate collodion processes, and the traditional silver gelatin prints. Their collection is able to be viewed by appointment only, available on their website.

 

George Eastman Museum

Gertrude Kasebier, "Serbonne". Gum Bichromate Print. George Eastman Museum Collection.

George Eastman Museum

900 East Avenue

Rochester, NY

14607

The George Eastman Museum was created in honor of the founder of Kodak. Their collection is almost entirely photographs, along with moving images and photographic technology. The museum’s collection largely focuses on the technological side of the photographic and audio/visual fields, so they have many examples of various processes. Above is an example of a gum bichromate print by Gertrude Kasebier.

 

Albany Institute of History and Art

Samuel J. Thompson, "Erastus Corning". Daguerreotype. Albany Institute of History and Art Collection.

Albany Institute of History and Art

125 Washington Avenue

Albany, NY

12210

The Albany Institute of History and Art is one of the only museums that collects art in the state’s capital. Their collection of photographs largely documents the history of New York state. The process of choice for the documentary photographers of the time albumen prints, silver gelatin prints, salted paper prints, and some wet-plate collodion processes. Seen above is an example of a daguerreotype in their collection.