Cameraless Photography.

Is cameraless photography an oxymoron? How can we be a photographer without a camera?

In today’s lecture we looked into what cameraless photography is, and how can we ‘author’ a photograph without a camera.

The first occurrence of cameraless photography came about in the late 1800s where photograms were made. In order to do this, objects were placed upon photographic paper and then exposed to light, causing the objects to print on the paper.

  • Man Ray – 1922 to 1928 well known for his photograms. He wanted to name them ‘rayograms’. Felt he discovered the process by accident however he went on to create a whole practice out of it. His work is important historically.



  • Joy Gregory – ‘From the Language of Flowers’. Explored the idea that flowers have a significant meaning. She used different flowers to represent different emotions although we do not know what these are. Used old photographic practices to present work, and used photograms traditionally.



  • Garry Fabian Miller  – his work appears different to the usual photogram however his ‘photography’ works with light, colour, space and how light works. 



  • Floris Neususs – made a career out of teaching/educating/learning/making work in photograms. The image below is interesting by how the hands and feet are sharper whereas the rest is out of focus – this is created by the head/legs which are further away cause them to be out of focus.



  • Susan Derges – land artist. Used moonlight as light to expose images, and placed photographic paper underwater to capture some really unique images. ‘Light Catchers’ – 2010.


Photograms were the beginning of cameraless photography.

Another type of cameraless photography is collages. The work of John Stezaker was highly respected, winning the Deutsche Bank Prize 2012 – photographer who has contributed the most to photography in the last year. Producing work from 1970s, John classes himself as a vandal/magpie for the collage that he creates. Works with surrealism, memory, sex, relationships – a photographer who doesn’t take photos. Received criticism for not honouring the original picture.



Digital media as cameraless photography

  • Pavel Maria Smejkal – known for Fatescapes, 2009. Focused on social history – if certain events hadn’t happened how would history be different? What if? Historical/documentary work of war time relating both the past and present. His photos would consist of recognition of an iconic image then revisiting the place to photograph shoot it as it is.



  • Mishka Henner – Uses Google earth to take photos, for example created a GIF of a number of pumps all over the world. Also created ‘Less Americains’ – homage to the work of Robert Frank. Took his work, and removed the people from the images, demonstrating how you can take information away and it will still make sense. The introduction to his book also has letters missing, in order to reflect this.



  • Doug Rickard – another who uses Google earth. Based on contemporary American books.



Following this we conducted group research into Joachim Schmid.

  • Works with ‘found photography’ – the recovery of lost and discarded photographs. Often picks them up off the street. Mundane images.
  • At one point he had looked at 10,000 photographs in one day alone.
  • “Alluring, intriguing, captivating”.
  • Notes date and place found.
  • Tries to reflect the Internet – shows the future of photography.
  • Photo sharing websites eg. Flickr to find photos.
  • No desire to work with other people.
  • Berlin based, studied visual communication.
  • ‘Pictures from the street’ – On going collection of photos of people on the street. Began 1982 and still going.
  • Wanted to be terrorist or artist.





~ by victoriasimkissphotography on January 25, 2013.

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