[Alt-photo] the alt family tree

Jalo Porkkala jporkkala at gmail.com
Fri Jul 28 00:04:31 UTC 2017

Hi Christina et al.

A short history of my involving in alt processes.

The first time I heard about alternative photographic processes was
sometime in late 1970's... there was the wonderful Swiss Camera magazine
showing palladium and albumen prints, and in 1980 I mail ordered my copy of
the Keepers of Light. One of my fellow photography students made gum prints
as his graduation work in 1979... a brave and beautiful thing that we all
admired as none of these processes were taught in photographers' education
at that time, and not largely since.

I started my work as a museum photographer, and in early 1980's taught
myself some processes to print glass negatives from 1880's-1920's,
including printing-out paper and others. I learned cyanotype and
platinum/palladium from the Keepers of Light. Another great source of
information for me was Nancy Rexroth's The Platinotype 1977. There was also
George Tice's workshop on Pt/Pd in Finland in early 1980's, this process
was the next thing I wanted to do.

Since I am in Finland it was next to impossible to buy chemicals for
platinum printing. I managed to order some from Photographers' Formulary
and Bostick & Sullivan... there was no internet and I especially remember
some late night phone calls (best business hours in the US) to Dick
Sullivan to order chemicals. :)

In 1990's I started working as a photography teacher at an art school. I
did some classes of basic photography, but also wanted to familiarize the
students with alternative processes. They were accepted with enthusiasm,
and we gradually did them more and more. There were alt-photo classes of
several weeks at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in 1995 and 2008,
and a few weeks slot of alt processes each year remained in the curriculum.

In 2006 at the Satakunta University we started Project Vedos, studying
numerous alt-processes and visiting collections at museums in Europe and
USA, and also participating in the APIS symposium in 2007 and 2009 in Santa
Fe. The Vedos ended in 2015 which also was the year of my retirement from
the teaching work. The project actually made it possible to produce the
first book of alt processes in Finland.

In 2011 I participated in Mike Robinson's Daguerreotype workshop in Lacock,
England, and have been totally hooked since. Regarding alt processes, I'm
only doing daguerreotypes for now, and giving occasional workshops on other


2017-07-16 19:43 GMT+03:00 Christina Z. Anderson via Alt-photo-process-list
<alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org>:

> Dear All,
> A few years ago SPE (Society of Photographic Education) was working out
> this photography family tree thing, where members would write in who taught
> them photography. I thought it was an interesting proposition, even though
> most of us have several moms and dads so to speak so the final tree trunk
> might not be just one set of “parents.”
> An MFA in photography is a comparatively new field as compared to other
> arts, but even other arts had schools of training and thought (e.g.
> Bauhaus).
> So that got me thinking about the key texts (and mentors, teachers,
> people) who influenced me in alt over the years. And it also got me to
> thinking about alt list members over the years, who’s still on, who still
> posts, that kind of thing.
> And then I’ve noticed lately “pockets” of alt in different countries and
> wondered who was at the foundations of those movements. It had to start
> somewhere. Where did Mrhar come from?
> Whatever the case, alt seems to be a burgeoning movement, unlike in the
> 60s or 70s where it was decidedly not mainstream.
> Anyway, it is an interesting conversation to think about, our forefathers
> and foremothers.
> Perhaps all contemporary collodion, for instance, leads back to Osterman
> or Coffer? Salt leads back to Reilly (1980)? Gum to Scopick?
> William Crawford’s text and then Scopick’s were at my foundation, but then
> Airey, House, Arnow, Blacklow, Hahn (who was influenced by Henry Holmes
> Smith), Nettles, Van Keuren…and then later Enfield, James, Farber, Barnier.
> I’d love to hear input from others as to their influences, perhaps too
> long a conversation for the summer vacation months! I decided to make a
> list of which I will share when I feel it is comprehensive. Wouldn’t want
> to miss someone because they weren’t on my personal radar.
> Chris
> _______________________________________________
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