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Alternative Photographic Processes in New York State: Workshops and Community

A resource for those looking to explore and practice alternative photographic processes in New York state.
The best way to learn an alternative photographic process is to learn from an expert. Buying all the supplies, chemistry, and other materials needed to properly execute a process and securing a safe and effective work area can be a daunting investment for a novice. Additionally, the chemical “recipes” and steps needed to cook up an image can be difficult to parse for the first-timer.


Taught for the new student to advanced student, workshops and classes offer a controlled environment in which one can learn a new process. Workshops often include all of the supplies needed to create, and they offer the student the opportunity to troubleshoot questions with the instructor. Additionally, many expert instructors will pass along tips of the trade that may not be found elsewhere.


New York state has a very large community for alternative processes due to support and promotion from historic institutions and community groups. In addition to those listed below, art schools, universities, and colleges may also offer courses and special workshops on alternative processes, which may be available only to students or to the larger public.

Classes & Workshops

Group Tintype, John Coffer

Courtesy John Coffer.

Camp Tintype

John Coffer

1236 Dombroski Road

Dundee NY 14837

John Coffer famously does not use email.


  • An annual gathering of both amateur and accomplished tintype photographers in an upstate New York campsite. Coffer offers a few different types of workshops based on the process and the size of the plates. Class sizes are extremely limited, none more than approximately 5 students.

  • 2019 Dates: June 20-22, July 18-20, Sept 26-28

Penumbra Foundation

Courtesy Penumbra.


36 East 30th Street

NY, NY 10016

(917) 288-0343

  • The Penumbra Foundation provides a center for the education, research, and outreach of alternative processes. They offer classes and workshops, tutorials, a research library, and a fully functioning tintype studio where members and non-members can get their portrait taken. They also host lectures and events relating to alternative processes including lectures and workshops with guest artists. In addition to community outreach, they have an artist in residency program as well.
  • Workshops vary by process. Please see website They usually span multiple days, depending on the process. Ranges from $200 to $500.

Alternative process chemistry and tools.

Courtesy Center for Photography Woodstock.

Center for Photography at Woodstock

59 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY 12498 

(845) 679-9957


  • The Center for Photography at Woodstock offers boutique-style classes that emphasize a small-group learning environment in the idyllic setting of Woodstock, NY. Workshops are taught by visiting “nationally and internationally renowned artists.” Not all workshops offered by CPW are alternative processes, and alternative processes may only be available intermittently based on scheduling.

Three men and a wooden large format camera.

Photograph by Nick Brandreth, courtesy George Eastman Museum.

George Eastman House

900 East Avenue

Rochester, NY 14607

(585) 327-4800


  • The George Eastman Museum offers in-depth, hands-on workshops in historic and alternative processes. Workshop curricula builds from the expertise of instructing on-staff and visiting experts as well as from the George Eastman Museum’s vast photographic collection. Workshops last one to five days, and several workshops per year are offered offsite as packaged excursions. Pricing varies based on the complexity and components of the process, the length of the workshop, and the workshop location. Workshops may also include an additional materials fee. Workshops may range anywhere from $150 - $1,500.

Community Darkrooms

For the cost of membership fees, community darkrooms offer shared space, tools, and services for members to utilize to create personal and professional work. The digital shift has led to a drastic decrease in the number of functioning darkrooms, but those that remain maintain a dedicated user base.

Bushwick Community Darkroom

110 Troutman Street

Brooklyn, NY


(718) 218-4023

Volunteer-based organization that strives to make film photography affordable and accessible to everyone. 3,000 sq ft warehouse with facilities for color and black and white processing and printing. Digital darkroom facilities with film scanners and work stations.  

Gowanus Community Darkroom

119 8th Street #212

Brooklyn, NY 11215

(718) 788-1751

Offer hourly rentals, monthly membership, studio rentals, and classes and workshops. This organization offers full black and white and color processing and printing facilities, a drop off service for film, as well as film scanner rentals. They also offer private lessons and group classes and workshops for both beginners and more advanced photographers.

CEPA Gallery, Buffalo

617 Main Street, Suite 201

Buffalo, NY 14203

(716) 856-2717

This darkroom primarily exists for those just beginning in darkroom photography. Their darkroom has the basic materials for black and white processing and printing, but no options for color photography or any alternative processing equipment. They offer classes of various knowledge levels and are one of the only community darkrooms in Buffalo, NY.

Community Darkroom, Rochester

713 Monroe Avenue

Rochester, NY 14607

(585) 271-5920

This community darkroom is a part of a larger organization, the Flower City Arts Center. The facilities are only available to members, but they are extensive in their offerings. Their facilities can accommodate standard black and white processing and prints, as well as color and alternative processing. They have many other studios for ceramics and printmaking as well.