Why do alternative processes?

A common question asked is “Why do alternative processes?” I suspect the answer is very personal to each artist.

I’ll take one thing off the table immediately – you don’t explore alternative processes to simplify and streamline your life to free up time for other activities. I was musing during a workshop with Larry Shapiro that taking on oil printing as a process could easily fill any spare time I had left. 
If you want expediency, volume, and color – consider a digital camera and printer. I use them for my color work.
My interest in alternative processes is idiosyncratic.
First, I think alternative photographic processes allow you to express a print in a seemingly endless variety of ways. The processes are not for someone who wants to quickly produce many copies of single print. In many processes, there is a craftsman approach to the print, with handwork (as in oil printing) making each print unique. The multitude of processes allow for a wide variety of papers, pigments, emulsions, and application methods for expressing one’s artistic vision. Something for everyone. 
Second, the processes are physically engaging. Frankly, sitting in front of computer (which I do a lot of) doesn’t excite me. In fact, I spent a great deal of time studying efficient digital workflows and printing with the goal of spending less time in front of a computer and more time making images. I find alternative processes very tactile – textures and liquids and action – the direct physical connection to the process influences my approach to image making. I like playing with this stuff!
Third, I am fascinated by the history and the accomplished practitioners of the various processes. When I do a cyanotype, I’m thinking of John Herschel, of Anna Atkins, and John Dugdale. It adds a depth to my approach, it influences my shooting when I anticipate expressing the print in a given process.
Fourth, I find alternative processes intellectually stimulating. Detailed knowledge is required for some processes and I find it stimulating to “crack the code” and work towards mastering it. I’ve been scouring the web for used original source books from the late 1800’s that describe the processes from the early practioner’s viewpoint. Hazardous materials wasn’t much of a concept back then seemingly (can you say “uranium toning“). 

I’m just beginning on this journey really. 

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