Summer School 2017 saw many incredible courses running and being attended by some amazing students, one course of which was the intriguing Cameraless Photography. Taught by Guy Paterson, who has been teaching for over 15 years at Central Saint Martins and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. We were really impressed with the work being produced, so we caught up with Guy to discuss what the students had been working on and how they achieved it.
Reducing photography to its purest form, Cameraless Photography encourages students to engage with the rudimentary physical action of light and chemicals on a two dimensional surface. These parameters enable a fertile and stimulating crossover between photography, painting, printmaking and graphics. A series of simple techniques are introduced to students using the black and white wet darkroom as a base. They are then given maximum time to explore their creative ideas.
The course enables students to explore photograms, contact printing, painting with light, chemigrams, photo-batik and lumen prints.
Student Emma Black worked, almost exclusively with a single spoon all week. This allowed her to apply all of the techniques introduced to her on a single object.
Emma also worked collaboratively with fellow student, the acclaimed photographer Nick Veasey, to capture the spoons on x-ray film. A complementary technique to cameraless photography, as you get some interesting results by exposing this material to light as well.
The only “cameras” that were allowed upon the course were coffee tin pinhole cameras, where photographic paper can be inserted inside for a manual exposure. The end results allow for some stunning and fantastically unique panoramic views!
Other students on the course used a simple photogram mixed with the chemigram technique.
During the last couple of days of the course, the students coated drawing paper with liquid photographic emulsion. This technic allowed students to take advantage of the unique surface and scratch directly onto the delicate surface.
It was a great surprise to see that photographer Nick Veasey was attending the course. Having admired his beautiful cameraless x-ray work for many years, it was a special treat to take a back seat on the last day and listen to a brief talk by Nick, with special emphasis on his work that was on displayed at the V&A.