Advanced Alternative Processes - Christian Hogue

© Christian Hogue

When you hear the words “salted paper print,” your mind probably travels back in time to the 1840s, to Henry Fox Talbot

and the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the world’s best art historians and conservators pore over delicate prints. You’d be wrong to think the century’s old process—along with others like it, the albumen or platinum print, the ziatype, gum bichromate—have been relegated to the annals of photographic history. Indeed, there are contemporary artists learning these alternative processes alongside the most cutting-edge digital innovations, on the beautiful coast of Rockport, Maine.

Maine Media Workshops + College houses one of the rare facilities equipped to accommodate practitioners of everything from advanced digital photography to cyanotypes, argyrotypes, and wet-plate collodion processes once beloved by legends like botanist Anna Atkins, known in many circles as the first female photographer, or Mathew Brady, photojournalist of the Civil War.

At the helm of the extensive array of alternative process courses offered by Maine Media Workshops and + College—the Exploring Alternative Processes Course, Advanced Alternative Processes, Young Alternative Process Photographer—is none other than photographer and photo historian Brenton Hamilton, whose extraordinary career has helped bring the cyanotype process into the discussion surrounding contemporary art.

Hamilton takes ancient, well-researched themes of Greek and Roman mythology and uses them to create fresh, radical, and decidedly modern images that often incorporate not only antique techniques but also older materials, like silver leaf. At MMW+C, he has built a flourishing community where photographers like him, both established and emerging, beginners and advanced practitioners, can have complete access to the tools and education needed to bring their ideas to life.

The college’s state-of-the-art studios were constructed, as Hamilton puts it, to “remove limitations for artists” and empower students to combine the genius of yesteryear with the freedoms of the modern age. The courses he offers cover contact printing, kallitypes, platinum and palladium, gum over washes, along with the processes mentioned above.

Students can learn to apply emulsion by hand to fabrics and other alternative materials, and they can experiment with pinhole and plastic cameras. They will watch their creations come to life in the darkroom and under direct sunlight or UV light, and will get a comprehensive feel for the both the scientific and cultural implications of photographic history.

In addition to the trio of courses mentioned previously, Hamilton also hosts Historic Process Mentoring at the college, providing in-depth critiques to students venturing into exciting terrain. Additionally, the college offers at Tri-Color Gum Week, in much students can make gum bichromate prints from their digital negatives.

In this digital age, there’s been an increased push to preserve the legacy of early photography. Art objects from the turn of the century are protected within the chambers of museums and libraries, where only a few highly-trained professionals are allowed. With its one-of-a-kind alternative processes courses, Maine Media Workshop + College is keeping these remarkable techniques alive, putting the power back into the hands of artists who are willing to push the envelope by returning to photography’s roots.

Advanced Alternative Processes - Jean-Pierre Brown 1

© Jean-Pierre Brown

Advanced Alternative Processes - Jean-Pierre Brown 2

© Jean-Pierre Brown

Brenton Hamilton_Bird 16

© Brenton Hamilton

Brenton Hamilton_CloudSpinner

© Brenton Hamilton

Exploring Alternative Processes - Christian Hogue 1

© Christian Hogue

Exploring Alternative Processes - Christian Hogue 2

© Christian Hogue

Exploring Alternative Processes - Sal Taylor Kydd

© Sal Taylor Kydd

Historic Processes - Sal Taylor Kydd

© Sal Taylor Kydd

Tri-Color Gum BIchromate - Jessica Bruzzi

© Jessica Bruzzi

Tri-Color Gum Bichromate - Liza Jones Szabo

© Liza Jones Szabo

Tri-Color Gum Bichromate - Thornley Hart

© Thornley Hart

Young Alternative Process Photographers - Kelcey Logan

© Kelcey Logan

Maine Media Workshops + College is a Feature Shoot sponsor.