Updated: May 29, 2022
From kitchen DIY set ups to darkroom labs, women have always been at the forefront of alternative photographic processes.
Take for example, Anna Atkins, the mother of cyanotypes, and the first person ever to publish a book illustrated with photographic images; or Mary Somerville, and her experimentations that led to the discovery of the anthotype technique. Similarly, nowadays, women continue to train in this science and craft.. In a recent study—”conducted by World Press Photo, the University of Stirling and Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 85% percent of women photographers were university educated compared to 69% in men.” The same study showed that women photographers tend to be more technologically savvy than men. Unfortunately, women in photography, as it happens in other fields, are underrepresented in contrast to their male counterparts. To counteract this trend, we want to share with you some amazing work by women in alternative photography who push the boundaries of photography with their perspectives and techniques.
Almudena Romero - British/Spanish visual artist based in London and Valencia. She employs a wide range of photographic techniques to tackle issues relating to identity, representation and ideology. Her most recent work "The Pigment Changes" is centered on using organic and natural photo-processes to raise awareness on the concepts of production, reproduction and sustainability.
Almudena Romero. “Growing Concerns series”. Clorophyl print.
Hannah Fletcher - A photographer currently living and working nomadically. She is the founder of the Sustainable Darkroom and her work centers on sustainability in analog/alternative photography, often employing camera-less techniques. Her photography is devoted to themes around the environment and ecology through the use of sustainable techniques using organic materials. Her material experimentation speculates about a more environmentally conscious future for photography while also exploring the photo-sensitivity potential of unusual mediums. Fletcher uses a variety of materials, ranging from plants, fungi, and even metals, to which she applies traditional photography techniques such as photograms, chemigrams, lumen prints, camera obscura, among others.
Hannah Fletcher. Redox Reactions. redox reaction of Iron into rust produced on cyanotype coated paper. 2019
Melanie Issaka - Visual artist and freelance photographer based in London. Issaka’s work uses a variety of alternative techniques among them cyanotypes and photograms. Thematically, her work is largely concerned with race and gender and how these factors come to play in identity politics. In some of her most recent works, she portraits her own body to create dialogue around the visibility of the African diaspora in the UK.
Melanie Issaka, “Locating the Personal”. Photogram, C-type print. 2021
Melanie King - A self-described “working class artist and curator”, from Manchester, UK, King is now based in Ramsgate, Kent, UK. In her photography, King explores a variety of alternative techniques to research the relationship between the environment, photography and materiality. Lately, her research has focused on sustainable photographic processes to minimize the environmental impact of her practice. Her subjects often involve celestial objects and the natural world.
Melanie King. “Pegwell Bay” from the Submerged Landscapes series, Sea Spinach Anthotype, 2021
Magda Kuca is a Polish photographer based in London.Through historical photographic techniques such as wet plate collodion, she dissects and captures the cyclical nature of human rituals while exploring slavic identity, memory and folklore.
Magda Kuca. “Slavic Bestiary series”. Wet plate collodion
Daisy Patton was born in Los Angeles to a white, American mother and an Iranian father she never met. Her work reflects these conflicting cultural landscapes and complicated familial ties through examining and challenging social conventions. In her series "Forgetting is so long," she collects abandoned family photographs, enlarges them to life-size, and paints over them with bright colors and patterning. By embracing multi-disciplinary storytelling and story-carrying techniques, her work considers living memory and the sacredness of the photographic object, collapsing the space and time within these images to bring the past people to the present.
Daisy Patton, "Untitled (May 15 1933), 2017, oil on archival print mounted to panel, photo sourced from Pasadena, CA
Johanna Rotko Johanna Rotko Visual artist and designer based in Lahti, Finland. Her artistic research explores her “relationship with microbes and how the environment is affected by [her] actions.” Her photographic practice involves the creation of images on yeast, also called yeastograms, with raster images, UV-light and living/growing yeast cells on growth medium in petri dishes. Rotko’s living images sometimes feature portraits of people she photographs.
Johanna Rotko. “Minka”. Yeastogram. 2014
Author: Ana Sofía Camarga
Photos by courtesy of the artists.