Photograms Follow these directions!

Photograms

Bottle © Phil Gee
Phil Gee

 

There are lots of different techniques you can use to make these with natural light-flashes of light-enlarger light–and other forms of artificial light (flashes–BRING MINI FLASH YOU CAN FIRE OFF CAMERA–they even make flashes you can insert gels into for use on color paper). You can do them in b/w or color-there are some really cool effects you can do with color filters and gels. You can work from digital negatives and contact them adding other objects on top also cliche verre glass negatives you’ve created and added more objects on top or during the exposure. You can move the objects during the exposure. You can work flat or create a set put your paper behind and flash light from front instead of above. You can have your objects at different heights by building up on stilts off the surface.

Olivia E

Using translucent objects-line drawings-water (one of my favorite mediums for photograms)-things with patterns or geometry–natural botanicals or artificial ones (look at Michaels in the floral section)–especially ferns and serrated lace type objects–look at some patterning on chiffon scarves and other textiles–think also of food like lemon or cucumber slices that have a pattern when you slice them–or some lovely herbs.. Also don’t forget you can use text in combination also just put it onto acetate if you want it to appear black or make letters opaque if you want them to appear white.  You can tone or paint your photographs afterwards–or embellish them however you want. I like to drip colored wax on mine and sometimes work that out with tools to create a more textured surface.

Your subjects need not be unidimensional. Transparent subjects, like bottles, can become frames within your frame. Photograph/Michael Mendez
Michael Mendez The killing jar

Using translucent objects-line drawings-water (one of my favorite mediums for photograms)-things with patterns or geometry–natural botanicals or artificial ones (look at Michaels in the floral section)–especially ferns and serrated lace type objects–look at some patterning on chiffon scarves and other textiles–think also of food like lemon or cucumber slices that have a pattern when you slice them–or some lovely herbs.. Also don’t forget you can use text in combination also just put it onto acetate if you want it to appear black or make letters opaque if you want them to appear white.  You can tone or paint your photographs afterwards–or embellish them however you want. I like to drip colored wax on mine and sometimes work that out with tools to create a more textured surface.

Flying bees and butterflies in jars—that little goldfish in his bowl–swimming babies in pools illuminated below with light on plexisupport–snake slithering in water–look at the work of Adam Fuss-quite wonderful. Etched crystal-marbles-beads-chains-water balloons rolling around (we’ll do this one!)-stencils-try to think of the innate symbolism of what you are using–think glass slipper!

Adam Fuss cibachrome photogram
Ethan Jantzer

 

Consider the words of Adam Fuss: “The aesthetic of me not being there.. One doesn’t have complete controle over the individual picture in the way one steps back. The force that makes the picture, the actual construction of the picture is not made by the hand it is made by the law of nature, the form that the nature takes. But one creates the situation that allows to take place. So there is a great degree of taken the helm. But there is also a situation where it is beyond, it is like another world. So there is no way you can do that. I like the aesthetic of me not being there, of the being no helm, of the looking like that there is no one there…”

 

 

Try to vary the density of the objects you choose–be wary of the tonal values they will impart and how you can adjust the exposure–or simply move them during exposure to change their appearance. Each photogram is a one of kind gesture-and brings you back to the fun and mystery of what photography is really all about. We as photographers try to exert so much control over our subjects and scene and technique–it’s very liberating to just let it all go and embrace what happens.

 

 

Check out these photograms!

I love Michael Mendez’s photogram book on Blurb!  http://www.blurb.com/books/1277216-photograms

http://betterphotography.in/features/camera-problem-2/13628/

 

http://sjpritty.blogspot.com/2013/11/three-photographers-who-make-photograms.html

http://www.chisholmphotography.co.uk/index.php?/2013/candid-arts-2013-photograms/

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