Experimental Photography

Summer 2017 (Second Session)
Class Size: 12
Credits per quarter

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What is a Photograph?  This program includes a broad range of techniques rooted in 19th century photographic printmaking that predate traditional negative-to-positive gelatin silver printing. Contemporary photography is experiencing a revival of these traditional methods, now applied in hybrid and intermedia practices. This program is specifically designed to support students as they test the boundaries of the common understanding of “photography” and pursue informed experimentation with processes and materials. We’ll focus on the meaning and modes of cameraless photography and abstraction and explore the language of the photogram, a cameraless image closely related to the monoprint, in cyanotype and in the darkroom. We’ll also make paper and film negatives in the field with our own pinhole cameras and create negatives by hand with ink, paint, and more. Other processes covered include anthotypes (plant-based emulsions) and lumenprints. From hand-coating paper with emulsions to timing sun exposures, we will work together to better understand how to put these methods to use in your own creative practice. Classes will combine demonstrations, supervised studio work, group critique and discussion, and short lectures on historical and contemporary practices and artists. Students will be expected to do short readings, conduct research, and give a presentation. In the final weeks of the term, each will student write a project proposal and produce a small body of work for a final show. Students will submit a complete portfolio of all work made and participate in a final critique. This course is equally suited to students new to photography who want to learn basic photographic principles through experimental, low-tech methods; advanced photography students who are ready to incorporate non-silver, non-digital techniques in their practice and experiment with new materials; and students with a background in 2D media who are interested in exploring the rich intersections among drawing, painting, printmaking and photographic processes.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Arts, Humanities, Education


Credits per quarter

Fields of study: 

Background in black-and-white darkroom photography will be very helpful for students taking this program. Students without previous photography experience are welcome, but will need to do some simple catch-up work in the first week of class. Previous coursework in visual/media arts, even if basic, will be helpful.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Expect to also spend up to approx $50-75 on art supplies specific to your project and a required textbook: Lyle Rexer,The Edge of Vision:The Rise of Abstraction in Photography ($25). An optional textbook,  The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (3rd edition), by Christopher James, is approx $75. 


$75 fee for photographic supplies.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 12

Scheduled for: Day

Advertised schedule:

Thur/Fri 9a-5p

Located in: Olympia

2017-02-13Updated class schedule
2017-02-13New Title (was previously Alternative Photographic Processes)