Photograms: Camera-less Photography

What is a Photogram? The oldest form of photograph, a picture produced with light-sensitive paper, but without a camera.

Early photographic methods fascinated me from the start of my career. The photogram is the simplest form of photography. It involves just using chemicals and light to develop the image. Creating these pieces below involved wading into water and then flashing light onto photographic paper. This had to happen just the right moment.

This ‘raw’ method of photography brought me closer to nature and enabled me to better capture Spirit_of_place in my work.

My Process. I have always had a very close connection to watery environments. As a child I paddled in the River Noe in Edale. This experience stayed with me through to adulthood. More recently I’ve enjoyed fly fishing for trout in a local stream which made me acutely aware of changes on the water’s surface.

My degree work led me to research how I could use photography to capture disturbed water. I came across the work of artist susan-derges. Her work inspired my own experiments with photograms and how to gain a closer association with nature. (*See more information about my photograms at rise- )

History The Hungarian painter and photographer Maholy-Nagy (1895-1946) pioneered the technique of producing photographic prints using light only. He experimented with exposing light sensitive paper with objects placed over the top. (*see below )

Maholy Nagy – Photograms

Photograms of Water Making my own photograms of moving water was quite tricky and very funny. I had to enlist my Uni. friends to help. Floating light sensitive paper below the surface of barlow brook in the ‘dead of night’. Then flashing light downwards at the right moment was quite a ‘learning curve’.

Using a sheet of aluminium as a support for the paper below the water line, was the key to success.

I developed the images in chemicals. It was all good fun. Next time I’ll tell you about how I made photograms of bird song …… watch this space.

I’d love to hear your opinions of this blog or your own experiences of making photograms.