Photograms – An Avant-garde Tipster


Photograms are produced by laying objects directly onto photographic paper, so there’s no camera involved. This means that they’re one of the easiest ways to get great results in the world of photography! Read on for details of how to make them…

Credits: maximum_b

The History

Even though they’ve been around since the dawn of photography, Photograms did not really become famous until the early 20th century when they were produced by the Avant-Garde artists Christian Schad and Man Ray. Both artists used the technique but Schad’s photograms were named ‘Schadographs’ and Man Ray called his ‘Rayographs’!

The How-To

All you need is:

• Some sheets of photographic black and white print paper
• A light source
• A print paper developing set and a plastic dish, large enough to lay the paper in.
• A darkroom

Then just follow these steps…

• Spill the developer in the dish.
• Open the print paper package under red light conditions.
• Put one sheet on the table and close the package properly, otherwise you will ruin the paper in the package.
• Place some objects on the paper and switch on the light for a second.
• Pick up the objects you placed on the paper.
• Develop the paper in the according to the manual which came with it, and you are finished.

Credits: maximum_b

Additional Tips

Give the paper enough time to dry, and beware, photographic paper is easily scratched once it is wet.

You can do experiments, too. Try to use some transparent objects like glass marbles, flower petals, feathers and crystals and place them beside solid objects like a pen, a knife, an apple and so on.

Cut letters out of a cardboard and place them on the paper, this is an easy way to make personal greeting cards.

Expand or decrease the exposure time and see the different results, you can also start to move the objects during exposure.

Or put an x-ray film from your last sport mishap or dental x-ray on the paper, the result is really astonishing and it’s the only way to get some fun out of those broken bones and aching teeth!

A useful hint: If you don’t know which side of the paper is the light sensitive side and you are not wearing lipstick, put a corner of the paper between your lips, the sticky side is the sensitive side.

Credits: maximum_b

So now you know the how-to, you can go and make some Photograms of your own! Let’s follow the example of our fellow Lomographer maximum_b and keep that Photogram dream alive in the 21st Century!

Want to learn more about why the Avant-Garde is Analogue? Then head to the Microsite, take part in our Shoot Your Prophecy Competition and download the Future is Analogue posters!

written by tomas_bates on 2011-04-15 #gear #tutorials #tipster #photograms #technique #rayographs #schadographs


  1. tallgrrlrocks
    tallgrrlrocks ·

    I love this tipster! I tried this when I was in college, with a bunch of silverware, haha! This made me want to try it again =D

  2. novakmisi
    novakmisi ·

    hahaa !!! what a accidental, today thing to upload my works from 80s which I cold pirograms !
    also made a tippster, cheers from serbia

  3. glenn
    glenn ·


  4. yarglags
    yarglags ·

    Very nice work. Here is one I did many years ago...…

  5. stouf
    stouf ·

    Grrreat !

  6. lomographyparis
    lomographyparis ·

    So cool!

  7. boilerupjill2014
    boilerupjill2014 ·

    Really neat!

  8. rhemaangel
    rhemaangel ·

    I love doing photograms, as each one is unique. Also a good way to let the youngsters get involved. ;o)

  9. arabrab
    arabrab ·

    I did some photograms too It is so much fun!

  10. dylanl
    dylanl ·

    Made some of these in my photography class!

  11. nuo2x2
    nuo2x2 ·

    very creative, even those dunny bunnies are involved within the process, nice!

  12. psychoceramics
    psychoceramics ·

    The dunny bunnies and negative rolls are awesome. This is really interesting- don't have a darkroom but stuff like this makes me really wish I had!! Thanks for sharing x

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