Maddy Mario

Natural Developers: A more sustainable way to process my analogue work

Prompt: The prompt for this project was fantastically broad, as we were asked to write down questions to ourselves involving how we could better our environment.

After writing my questions down, I found myself wondering how I could continue my passion for analogue photography while still being sustainably conscious. My experiments consisted of trying to replace the harsh chemicals I currently use to develop my film. I practiced with red wine, green tea extract, and coffee, finding different “recipes” and successful methods. I wrote down my chemistry for each substitute developer, and wrote the pros and cons of using each of them. In the photographs themselves, I kept in mind Kara Walker (an artist we learned about in class) as she expressed the importance of subtleties, which made me think harder about the actual images captured within this experiment. Not only did I want to be sustainable in using alternative developers but I also wanted to show it in my photographs.

While the studio and seminar research was similar in this project, my seminar piece took on a broader scope and compared digital photography with analogue photography, and how they each effect the environment. It is difficult to decipher overall where the problem begins when there are so many steps in the process from; manufacturing, film processing, photo printing, and discarding processes. While photography in general needs improvements in all different ways, many companies and organizations are now being founded surrounding this topic of more environmentally friendly alternatives to either digital or analogue formats of photography. However, it takes a whole lot of consistency and determination to make something more mainstream than the original process. In my personal opinion, after researching this all, especially with analogue photography, I learned that I need to be more disciplined with how I conduct my chemical processes at home, and how I dispose of the toxic chemical and what I could reuse that would otherwise wind up in a landfill.