By Far the Best Book on Alternative Photography Ever!

Christopher James brings the art of hand-coated and alternative photography to a new level with his book. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes will become the new standard text for alternative hand coated photography.

Dick Sullivan Founder and Co-Owner, Bostick & Sullivan


Instant Classic!

Christopher James's "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes" is both landmark and guide. It's where we've been, where we are now, and where we're going.Photography's classic methods and materials are explained, explored, extended, and reinvented, while marching well into the age of inkjet and digital.

Judy Seigel Founder and Editor of The World Journal of Post Factory Photography


The Definitive Text on Alternative Photography

After years of effort--and gathering hundreds on images--his own as well as those of other master photographers and many of his students, Christopher James has produced a superb book that likely will stand for years as the definitive text on alternative photography. It not only is a pleasure to look at it is a pleasure to read. From Ambrotype to Ziatype, Christopher covers it all, in a breezy, accessible style that is jammed with practical information that never is pedantic or dull. I don't even do lots of this stuff and I found it all fascinating. It's a simply marvelous book, by a gifted teacher.

Frank Van Riper Photographer, author, and photography columnist for The Washington Post.


Equally meticulous -- and adventurous

"In his own work, Christopher James has always rendered his artist's vision with the daring hand of the master craftsman. In his teaching, Christopher's attention to detail is equally meticulous -- and adventurous. Fine-art photographers can expect to learn new ways of seeing and to be inspired toward greater self-expression by this comprehensive survey of alternative processes."

Jim Hughes, Founding editor of Camera Arts and former editor of Camera 35 and the Photography Annual. Author: W. Eugene Smith: Shadow & Substance, Ernst Haas in Black and White, and The Birth of a Century.


From Lyle Rexer

For more than 25 years, Christopher James has been on a mission to open photography's eyes to the riches of its own possibilities. This is a book to take into the darkroom -- and to enjoy in the daylight.

Lyle Rexer, Author of Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Process Photography, Harry N. Abrams (2002), columnist on art and photography for The New York Times


From Bea Nettles

In this ambitious and informative book, James displays the qualities of great teaching: organization, humor, and enthusiasm. With clarity and passion he covers an impressive range of working methods from the historic to the recent. Not simply a how to do it book, it is a why to do it... advocating for photography in its many manifestations.

Bea Nettles, Author of Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook and Professor of Photography at the University of Illinois.


From Dan Estabrook

Finished the careful read 'n' review of your book - magnificent, exhaustive, exhausting, overwhelming. I think it does make much of the rest of the library of alternative process manuals pretty much obsolete...

Dan Estabrook, artist and teacher


The Scholar and the Artist in Perfect Synchrony!

This is an invaluable book, an exemplary resource text about Alternative Photographic Processes. But, and here is the Christopher James rule of thumb, this "text" is deliciously readable. Even for collectors who are looking for some degree of insight into the magic of the medium this book has much to offer. I found myself actually READING the text, not just paging through a beautifully designed tome on great photographs.

Dr. Grady Harp, Gallery owner, curator, artist and collector


The Last Word on Alternative Processes / The Ultimate Resource

The category can now be put to rest. James has written the definitive book on the wide subject of alternative photographic processes. For each process he combines some history, contemporary examples, detailed instructions, and the knowledge gained through many years personal experience. What could have been a deadly bore to read is instead lively and personal. Huge number of examples lets you see what is happening today in each medium. First at Harvard, now at Art Institute of Boston, James is one of the leading artist-teachers in the country. If you are interested in the subject, this is the only book to own.

Jan Rosenbaum, Professor, artist, author


From Jonathan Bailey

It's hard to not slip into strings of superlatives in responding to this book! If you have *any* interest in photographic alt-printing-processes, this book is a must-have. Even if you *don't* have a specific interest in alt-processes you'll want to own this book! Spend a few moments with it - it's so seductive you'll want to make your own handmade photographs too!! The book is written in an easy, open and friendly style - with lots of humor throughout (a real accomplishment in itself!). The information is utterably reliable and accurate - and is very easy to grasp and follow. It will have you working in that new process in no time. It will absolutley remove the fear of trying it! There's just enough historical background for each section to enlighten and to interest. And the REPRODUCTIONS!! are abundant and of extremely high quality (reason enough to purchase the book). This is a *really* satisfying alt-process photography book which you'll refer to again and again and again....

Jonathan Bailey, Photographer and curator

This is The Book!

Christopher James has written the most reader friendly, technically demystifying, and visually rich books that I have seen in a very long time. The "Little History" sections that begin nearly every chapter are fun to read and full of the connections, anecdotes, and colorful characters, that has made the photographic arts so compelling to historians and artists.

Technically, the book is clear and informative (winner of the Golden Light Technical Book of the Year in 2001) and goes to great lengths to be sure the reader will have little difficulty comprehending and working with the myriad processes covered.

Besides James's very accessible writing style, which reads like conversation between friends, the collection of illustrated work is truly outstanding. It is significant that of the over 300 illustrations, a good percentage were made by James's students and those of other artists, and teachers, represented in the book. It is important to note that the production values in this full color book are outstanding.

James has collected a rich contemporary survey of alternative process work, likely the most comprehensive in print, and this alone makes his book a terrific resource for students of any age. For teachers, it clearly "sets-the-bar" with a buffet of visual possibilities. I viewed an exhibition of the work in the book last fall, at The Art Institute of Boston, and can assure you that the quality of reproduction is first rate.

All in all, this is a wonderful book to read, work with in the studio, and to enjoy purely for the images. If you've ever had an interest in alternative process photography, this is The Book to have.

A Reader, Amazon.com

Instant Classic

This review was posted on the alternative photo processes e-mail list on Friday, July 27, 2001 by Judy Seigel, editor of The World Journal of Post-Factory Photography.

Christopher James's "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes" has arrived. Having had the signal honor of an invitation to blurb it, I prophesied that it would be "both landmark and guide. It's where we've been, where we are now, and where we're going. Photography's classic methods and materials are explained, explored, extended, and reinvented, while marching well into the age of ink jet and digital."

At that point, I'd seen only the text and something like 400 names. With the book in hand I can only add "instant classic." Chris vetted chapters with the reigning experts *for years*, bringing them to state of the art. MANY fresh works by newcomers (including Sara Van Keuren's and Chris James's students), as well as the old masters, classics in the field, from Francis Firth and Talbot himself, to Robert Demachy and our own Galina Manikova. A most special delight is four (4!) iconic works by the mother of all us "moderns," Naomi Savage, too little known today.

Chris may succeed with his almost irresistibly relaxed & conversational tone (that is, readable !), here & there dropping in the unproved or experimental as casual suggestions along with the straight authoritative data, because he's taught so much of it himself for so long -- he's perfectly comfortable both with the material & teaching it.

So far, however, I've only managed to tear myself away from compulsive caption reading long enough to skim a few paragraphs & chapter heads. I note in particular "the instant gratification method" for albumen (I made a note) and Lazertrans, among its 386 pages. I could (I confess) live without anthotype, but there on the page across from Dan Estrabrook's anthotype dress from pink petal dye is a totally delicious Christopher James drawing titled "Sir John Herschel's Actual Fingers Selecting an Odd Flower for His Anthotype, 1840."

Every page has its own gifts. In fact, if you never read a formula the (well printed) illustrations & captions are delight enow. Well worth the cover price, whether a farthing or a king's ransom. (This detail is omitted, no matter -- eat oatmeal if necessary.)

MERCIFULLY, the book is NOT perfect. I managed to find at least one flaw (otherwise I was going to fold my tent & let Chris carry the ball, to mix metaphors). I'm not really happy with the letter face used as dividers in the index. Got that? They're red, which is some help, however. And the overall type design is blessedly clear, coherent & easy to follow. No more now, see for yourself -- but Oh yes, a chapter on this very list will bring a smile or two... also a subscriber or two.

When I was a late-life retread studying photography, Christopher James was one of the photo artists we most admired. It's a thrill to be in his book, which he improved & improved & improved for years, making it a joy forever.

Judy Seigel, Editor World Journal of Post-Factory Photography