The Photogram: A Magical Concept
Branded by various artists over the years, the exploration of the photogram can be traced back to the 1700s with the discovery of light-sensitive materials.
The technique of creating a photograph image without the use of a camera is as old as photography itself. Commonly referred to as a photogram, it's a photographic image that is made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photosensitive paper and then exposing it to light.
Branded by various artists over the years, the exploration of the photogram can be traced back to the 1700s with the discovery of light-sensitive materials. However, it would take until the following century to produce a detailed photogram and invent a formula to “fix”, or stabilise an image for permanency.
A photography pioneer who achieved success with these developments was Henry Fox Talbot. The British inventor made tracings of his botanical specimens by exposing chemically-treated paper to sunlight, calling his process photogenic drawings. But as photographic technology aspired to more advanced levels, the photogram was almost entirely replaced by the supposedly more interesting “camera photography.”
Decades later, thanks to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, the photogram veered in a radically different direction. American artist, Man Ray, almost single-handedly popularised the technique, calling his creations rayographs. Other influential artists from this period include Marta Hoepffner, Lotte Jacobi, Christian Schad and László Moholy-Nagy. It was Moholy-Nagy who is believed to have coined the term photogram, and who also gained recognition for his luminogram artworks; a variation of the photogram whereby an image is shaped with light only.
A sampling of my photograms, or stephographs, as I refer to them, are shown here.