About enlargergrams

As digital photography has made image making an immediate practice, with pictures easily taken, posted and forgotten, I am striving to slow down the process and make it a more revealing experience. 

Enlargergrams came out of an investigation to push the limits of the darkroom.  While studying color photography at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) in Fall 2003 I was picking up some processed film and noticed that the Ginkgo trees had suddenly turned yellow, and how flat their leaves were, like film. I pondered what would happen if I put them in the enlarger and exposed them to color negative paper.  This exploration grew beyond the flat surfaces of leaves, and soon, anything that could fit into the enlarger was made part of the experimentation.  What came out of this study was a greater understanding of what a camera does best; how it “sees” better than the human eye can see.  Many more elements emerged not just because they were enlarged, but also because they were focused upon at greater detail.  The detail is a result of a direct connection to the original object, as the process affords less separation between object and image.  It is this aspect of photography that entices me to keep seeing, to keep making.  For me, the making and the seeing are synonymous.   

Enlargergrams are similar to photograms, in that the objects used are placed between the light source and the paper.  However, objects in an enlargergram are not placed on the paper but inside the enlarger, between the condenser (light source) and lens, where the film usually is placed.  The denser the object, the more time required to produce an image as light must travel through the object in order to hit the paper.  Whereas photograms are more like shadows on the paper, enlargergrams are direct images from the original object; there is no liminal state (no film) in the process of making the image.  Only light, object, lens, and paper are used. In essence, the darkroom becomes a giant camera.