Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Camera-less Photography

Camera-less photography is a technique producing photograms, which are essentially photographic images requiring only direct exposure of an object onto a photosensitive surface. The image is captured without the use of a lens or a camera. Depending on the transparency of the objects used, the image varies in tones. For example, translucent objects appear grey; opaque, white; and empty space, black. Since the image is produced directly onto paper, there is no negative. Each photogram is a one-of-a-kind work of art. And because of the unique process, photograms often come out looking surreal, ghostly, and generally different than we expect.

The photogram technique dates back to the beginnings of photography. In its early stage, photograms were explored and developed in the context of scientific and medical research. Two of the first applications of photograms were documenting botanical specimens and x-rays.

The use of the photogram for purely artistic purposes came later, after the first World War as illustrated by Christian Schad, Man Ray and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy in the modernist period of art. Today photograms continue to be used by artists as a means of artistic expression, producing a wide variety of designs and surreal imagery mostly for the world of Fine Art Photography, and occasionally for advertising.

Although camera-less photography remains, in my opinion, somewhat avant-garde, I believe it is accessible to the “masses” through its minimalist, direct, tactile and experimental approach to image-making. Curiosity and experimentation are de rigueur in this genre. With camera-less photography, equipment does not “get in the way”; or create such a strong divide between the Observer and the Observed.

Useful link to information on photograms:

How to make a photogram -
Original, funny use of photograms -

Inspiring Contemporary Photographers using the Photogram:
Susan Seubert - - /Portfolios/Dress-O-Grams/1
Don Dudenbostel -
Pierre Cordier -

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