You do not need a darkroom to make phytograms as this technique relies primarily on the chemical reaction between plants and photographic emulsion. The basic procedure  is as following: select a (fragrant) plant and carefully pick the leaves or select flowers and take apart the petals. The leaves or petals should be relatively flat in order to make contact with the films’ emulsion. Soak the leaves or petals in a solution of water, soda and vitamin C (see underneath*). The plants are ready to use almost instantly but prolonged soaking can help to make sturdy leaves softer and easier to apply. Roll out a strip of film on a table or other flat surface in full daylight (the strip can be as long or short as desired). Apply the soaked plants to the film, taking care that none of the solution is spilled on the emulsion and secure maximum contact between the plants and the emulsion. Leave the filmstrip with the applied organic material in full sunlight for quick and highly contrast results and in the shadow for slower and less contrasty results. Exposure times can vary between a few seconds up to several hours depending on the available light. Follow the darkening of the films’ emulsion by looking at the edges of the applied leaves or petals. When sufficient staining occurs on the edges, carefully remove the leaves or petals on a shadowy spot and submerge the filmstrip in normal photographic fixer or alternatively, use a strong salt solution as fixer.


– 1 liter water
– 2 tablespoons washing soda
– 1 tablespoons vitamin C
– a handful of plants (those that have a specific smell or stickiness work best)

Karel Doing, Comfrey (Phytogram) 2019