How To Develop Photo Paper

Materials needed:

– Tray of “Developer” chemical solution

– Tray of “Fix” chemical solution

– Tray of vinegar stop solution

– Tray of plain water rinse

– Paper towels

– Tongs for picking up the wet paper

– Safe light

– Completely darkened room

– Access to running water


1 ) Take the photo paper out of the can while inside a darkened room.

2 ) Put the photo paper in the tray of developer solution for at least 1 minute; maybe 1.5 minutes. Gently move the paper around in the solution so the whole surface of the paper gets wet. You should see the “picture” (negative) appear on the paper.

3 ) Pick up the exposed negative with the tongs and let most of the solution drip off the paper. Put the paper in the stop solution. Gently move the paper around for 15 seconds so as to cover the whole surface of the paper with the solution.

4 ) Pick up the negative with the tongs and let the paper drip dry a bit. Put it in the fix solution for 2 minutes minimum.

5 ) Pick up the negative and drip dry a bit again before putting the negative in the plain water rinse tray. Gently “wash” the negative for about 5 minutes. Change the water frequently between each negative being developed.

6 ) After the last rinse, hold the negative up and gently wipe off excess water from the negative and then lay it on the paper towel to dry for a minute or two.

7 ) Your negative is ready to bring out into the light.

8 ) Scan the negative on the computer and invert to get your positive print.


1 ) Developer solution – mix 1 part developer to 10 parts water.

2 ) Stop solution – mix 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water.

3 ) Fix solution – mix 50ml of fix to 450 ml of water.

4 ) Wash solution – just water that is changed frequently.

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4 thoughts on “How To Develop Photo Paper

  1. Brian

    They can be reused. The Developer will lose it’s potency with air contact. Once diluted my bottle suggests keeping it no longer than 24-hours (the concentrate remaining in the bottle can be stored up to 2 years). I have used it up to a couple weeks after dilution but store it in an airtight bottle in-between developing sessions.

    The Fix will last until its capacity is used up. Check the information sheets provided by the manufacturers, either on the bottles or on their website. It will show the total area of paper that a bottle can process and it should be discarded after that. In practice for pinhole photography this capacity is quite large and I usually end up mixing a new batch every few months.

    For both solutions, I make 500mL of diluted solution at a time (50mL of concentrate +450mL of water). This amount of Fix (some Kodak brand) can do something like 25 5×7″ paper negatives, more than I go through in a year.

    For disposal information, you can again consult the manufacturers websites. For example, Ilford suggests that typical home users will be fine diluting and washing down the drain, though it really depends on what kind of volume you’re going through and what sort of waste disposal system you’re on.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Cathy

    Thank you! I am going to use your instructions. Please clarify the gentle washing with water. Do I need to change the water during the 5 minutes of washing? Do I use my hand to gently wipe off excess water before putting it on the paper towel?

  3. Brian

    Hi Cathy! I do my washing over a sink. A couple of times during the 5-minute wash, I tip out some of the water (maybe ~25%) and top it up with a bit of clean water to keep the wash bath fresh. This probably isn’t necessary if your wash bath is reasonably sized, but it can’t hurt.

    After the 5-minutes, I hold the negative above the bath with tongs and give it a gentle shake to get some of the excess water off. Then I sandwich it between a couple pieces of clean paper towel. After a few minutes, I take the paper towel off and hang the print with a clip somewhere to dry.

    I completely change the wash water out in between negatives.

    Let me know if you have any more questions!


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