Did you know you can make a photograph without a camera? By placing objects on paper sensitive to light, you can create an image left behind from the shadow of your objects.

While there are many ways to create one, this project only requires sun, water, a sheet or two of sunprint paper and some common household items.

1. Gather

  • Sunprint paper
  • Two sheets of plexi or two pieces of glass from picture frames
  • Two Binder clips
  • Natural objects (the flatter the better – leaves, petals, grasses and flowers work great)
  • Small tray or bin filled with tap water
  • Paper towels


2. Compose

Set one piece of your plexi or glass on your work surface. Arrange your objects on top. Have fun with your composition! Take your family outside and have them explore to find some interesting objects. Small items that flatten easily work the best such as leaves, grasses, flowers and petals.


3. Sensitize

Once you’ve finished arranging your objects, take one sheet of sunprint paper out of the light-tight bag and place it over your composition with the darker blue side facing down. Clip the two pieces of plexi or glass together with your binder clips to “sandwich” the whole thing together. (Note: be careful where you place the binder clips – if they cover the sunprint paper, they will print onto your image).


4. Expose

Take your sandwiched composition outside and lay it in full sun. Exposure times vary depending on the time of day and the weather, but generally it takes a minute to five minutes. The paper will go from deep blue to very light blue, at which point it’s ready. Take your composition back inside before the next step.


5. Wash

Take off the binder clips and set aside the objects you used. Gently slide just the exposed  sunprint paper into water, making sure it’s completely under the water.


6. Dry

Place the fully rinsed photogram on a paper towel to dry. Once dry, place your print under a stack of books to flatten completely.


Financial support is provided by the Gould Family Foundation and the City of San Diego.

For sponsorship or underwriting opportunities contact a member of the Development Team at development@mopa.org or 619-238-7559 x300.