How to make your own developer and fixer from the stuff you have in the kitchen

Tips & Techniques

Last week, photographer Brendan Barry showed you how to turn your room into a camera obscura using only the stuff you can find at home. And if any of you decides to take analog photos with your “room camera,” you’ll need developer and fixer for the photographic film. Here’s some good news – you can also make these without leaving your home. In the video below, Brendan will show you how.

Experienced film photographers among you have maybe even tried developing film or photographic paper with homemade alternatives like beer or coffee (caffenol). What I find interesting is that there’s even a special craft beer formulated for developing Kodak 8mm film. However, if you’re new to this, Brendan gives very detailed and clear guidelines in his latest video.

The video is a perfect addition to the one teaching you to make a camera obscura from your room. It shows you how to process photographic photo paper using homemade developer and fixer. So, if you decide to take photos with your “room camera,” this is how you’ll make the chemicals without leaving home.

For the developer (caffenol), you’ll need coffee granules, vitamin c powder/tablets, and washing soda. You can even make washing soda from baking soda, but I can’t tell if it would work for the developer. For the fixer, all you need is table salt and some warm water. These recipes aren’t only quarantine-friendly, they’re also cheaper, more readily available and environmentally friendly, as Brendan notes.

Now, the possible problem is that you need photo paper if you want to shoot with your “room camera” from the previous video. “I don’t know how to make this with stuff I have in the kitchen I’m afraid,” Brendan notes. However, if you have some paper in stock – perfect. It can even be out of date, or even color paper (but it will turn out sepia). If you don’t have any, perhaps you can order it online.

Still, if you want to skip the photographic paper entirely, it’s worth noting that these mixtures also work for black & white film! If you’ve wanted to set up your own darkroom for a while now (like I have), now’s your chance. 🙂 If you have some black and white film to shoot with, perhaps you can try and develop it yourself with these homemade mixtures.

If you’d like to discover some more ideas that bring together photography and kitchen, check out this link. And of course, make sure to follow Brendan’s work on his website and Instagram.

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