My experiments with photograms and cliché verre.
My experiments with photograms and cliché verre.

Learning to Photograph Without a Camera

Finally, I am taking a course that has eluded me for my entire time here at Arcadia: Photography I. I’m thrilled!

It’s the home stretch for me—second semester, senior year. I’ve tried to take this course on a few occasions, but either it never fit in my schedule or it filled up before I had a chance to enroll. Luckily, I secured the very last seat in the class this time. In what I am sure will be a very busy, hectic, and stressful semester, I anticipate an elective that gets me out of textbooks and essays and allows me to explore one of my favorite hobbies.

Although I have shot film for years, I have never had any formal training. Going into the course as a self-taught photographer has made the first few weeks somewhat slow, as we are going over all of the basics of how to operate a camera. However, we have completed our first project, photograms and cliché verre, or more simply, camera-less photographs.

Camera-less photographs, you say? Photograms and cliché verre are produced by placing objects directly over or on top of light-sensitive photo paper. The project put us in the darkroom using developing chemicals, enlargers, and other equipment for the first time, and I had a blast experimenting with the process. I spent hours both in class and late the next evening in the lab testing out different combinations of fabrics, paper, locally sourced flora (what I could find on campus that still had leaves on it), and a multitude of other materials and items. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I will be spending most of my free time in Murphy Hall, and I can easily see this as being a great escape from the stress associated with being a second semester senior.

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