A Few Miscellaneous Blurbs about
The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes: 2nd Edition

Christopher James

“The first edition was a stunning achievement, and one I felt that was not likely to be superceded. Five short years later Christopher James has created a very new work and a new standard. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes: 2nd Edition is, by far, the best alternative photographic process book ever!”

Richard Sullivan, Founder and Co-Owner, Bostick & Sullivan

“As bit strings take over our photographic being – if not our lives – we need, more than ever, this playful and inspiring manual. James cheerfully and effectively instructs us, whether we are novice or adept, in the alchemical arts of transmuting our expressive photographic images, both digital and analogue, into hand-crafted prints which will forever bear our individual marks.”

Dr. Mike Ware, Author of over 50 books and publications on alternative process, history, process and preservation.

“Expert alternative printers I know call Christopher James' first edition "the Bible." Now it's an even more lushly illustrated Bible, with clear and complete directions for every process in history. Christopher James has been leading, inspiring, and teaching delighted students for years, in every medium in the field. We are so lucky… he knows everything in the world about all of it.”

Judy Seigel, Publisher/Editor of World Journal of Post-Factory Photography

"Among the things people grab first when fleeing a burning building are children, pets and family photographs. Photographers should probably add Christopher James' book, definitive now in its second edition.  It is the one indispensable text for mastering a full repertoire of alternative techniques in photography.  At a time when photography is threatened by digital blandness and terminal consistency, this book contains the creative antidote."


Lyle Rexer, author of Photography's Antiquarian Avant-garde: The New Wave in Old Processes


“Christopher James has taken the most thorough book on the hand-made photograph and made it even more complete. It's full of every technical detail, historical anecdote and experimental idea he’s found over many years of research, practice and teaching, without sacrificing an ounce of his familiar enthusiasm and good humor. Even if you weren't interested in alternative photographic processes, you could read this book for pleasure alone.”

Dan Estabrook, Artist, NYC



5.0 out of 5 stars A Photography Classic by Christopher James, December 11, 2011
By Regis (Remy) (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
This review is from: The Book of Alter native Photographic Processes (Paper back)

The second edition of Christopher James' classic book is a tour de force. A massive work of over 600 pages and hundreds of images, James covers almost all alternative processes (with the exception of gravure and daguerrotype) such as calotype, cyanotype, gum bichromate, argyrotype, albumen, platinum/palladium processes and so on, in an intelligent and readable manner. It is a witty, quirky, literary and amusingly written book that tantalizes the reader,

befitting a scion of the famous pragmatist William James. But James does not merely describe alternative processes. He provides a deeper insight into the early history of photography, its later development, its impact on thinking about art, and on society. He also references photography's effect on observers of this puzzling meld of science and art such as Charles Baudelaire. In a trenchant criticism of photography in the Salon of 1859, Baudelaire famously called it (among other things) "squalid", "a cheap method" and "a fanatical madness" . Two aspects intrigue me about this book. First, Chapter 5, "The Digital Options", is new since the 1st edition. It is a rumination on the impact the digital world has had on photography, on perception and on the audience. It is worth reading as a stand-alone piece. Second, James' book revives the discussion about "Imperfection" and its artistic merit. Every alternative print is unique and often imperfect. For the ancient Greeks, perfection was a prime requisite for high art and beauty, and this concept was revived during the Renaissance in art and in architecture. The question is whether artists today WANT to achieve perfection. The very beauty of alternative processes is its imperfection and unpredictability, and therein lies the beauty of such images. And each image is unique and irreproducible. There is also the great appeal of a haptic approach that is missing in digital photography and in so many other high technology fields. The tactile nature of alternative processes (and traditional film itself will probably become "alternative" very soon) gives great pleasure to some of us who strive to make images that takes effort. It is rather like the exhilaration of hiking up a mountain, rather than being carried up to the summit by bearers.


5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, can't put it down, January 1, 2012
By D. Hanson " D" (Chicago)
This review is from: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Paper back)

If you are interested in alternative photo printing techniques this book is a must. Most of the major techniques are covered in individual chapters with some history and other interesting information. In some ways this book is a cookbook and in some ways not. It recognizes the tremendous variability in most of these processes. Using this book I went from failure to success in making gum bichromate prints. I am looking forward to trying each and every one of the processes for a long enjoyable future of print making.


5.0 out of 5 stars Essential key to any darkroom printer's library., August 29, 2011
By Matthew
This review is from: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Paper back)

If you have ever had any interest in alternative printing or working in the non tradition of wet darkroom work this is a must have. To think of giving a brief historical background, a full chemical proprieties list, and than giving in depth instruction of how to make the physical print

of more than 10 process's is simply amazing to pack into one book. While reading you can really appreciate Christopher's passion for the hand made craft. He is able to explain these often complicated chemical prints in a easy and non intimidated manner. In a fully digitized world it is so refreshing to see a man fully dedicate himself to something alternative than the norm.

What I loved about this book is how nothing is left to the imagination, often times while reading technical instructional books there is always that little something that is left out that can really make the world of difference while in the studio. With James's book nothing is left to the imagination, anything that could go wrong or may go wrong he warns you off, and gives you insight on how to avoid that. I was amazed to see that he was able to top himself with the first edition, I very much look forward to the third edition.

As i write this review i look to the book case fondly at my battle tested personal copy stained all over with various shades of browns and blacks from chemistry and smelling like lavender varnish.


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book on Alternative Processes, June 10, 2011
By BjornR
This review is from: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Paper back)

I started to explore the alternative (historic) photographic printing techniques approx. a year ago, and have learned lots of stuff by searching the net for information. I have also bought several books on the theme, but only this book had the information level I was searching. It is a thick book, and very structured. Great read too. So far I have only explored a few of the techniques described in the book, but it is a joy to read about all the other techniques. The author brings the techniques into perspective by starting each chapter with a historic overview. In this way, I have got a much better understanding of why and how the different techniques evolved. But most important: I get a much better understanding of how to make beautiful images printed in alternative techniques. Highly recommended.

I am running a blog on my personal experience with these techniques, and had to make a short review of the book on www.retrofoto.dk. Off course I gave it top score, which I also do here.