A photogram is the simplest kind of photograph to make.
You don't even need a camera or enlarger. All that's required is a room
that gets dark, photographic paper, developing chemicals, trays, and your
Of course, a regular darkroom with an enlarger will give you more flexibility,
but it's not really necessary.
How do you make photograms, which, as a note of interest, have been around
since the mid 19th century?
The process is so simple even a child can produce them. Under safelight
conditions [you can use a safelight bulb in a table lamp] lay out a piece
of photographic paper. Now, using your imagination, arrange objects on
the paper such as scissors, keys, cardboard cutouts, etc. You'll find
many everyday household items that can be used.
Turn on the normal room light for just a few seconds to expose the paper.
Whatever you've placed in the path of the light will create a white silhouette
once the paper is developed. [A brief note on developing: all that is
required are three trays of chemicals developer, stop bath, and fixer
used in this order].
You may have to experiment to get a proper exposure time but this won't
be hard to do.
For those with, darkrooms, use your enlarger as the light source, exposing
with a time long enough to produce a rich black on the uncovered areas
of the paper.
The sharpness of the edges of the silhouettes depends on the thickness
of the object. Flat objects such as a key, will produce crisp, easily
recognizable shapes whereas a more three-dimensional item will result
in a softer image perhaps adding more mood to your photogram.
Many amateurs will make a few photograms as a means of introduction to
the darkroom but will not continue because the process appears too easy
and too limited.
This need not be true. By allowing your imagination and creativity to
flow, you can come up with many exciting photogram ideas. For example,
use translucent or transparent objects to give you varying degrees of
gray tones in the finished print. Also, anything that reflects, refracts,
or diffuses light is worthy of experimentation. Broken glass or crumpled
cellophane can make photograms of unusual interest. If you have an enlarger,
how about superimposing a negative right onto the photogram?
I made the photogram of this "automobile" by using such simple
objects as washers, metal filings, a ruler, film reels, and a piece of
string for the roadway.
Whatever types of photograms you elect to do, you'll find that the spirit
of imagination and experimentation is the key to success.