Henry Holmes Smith and Cameraless Photography

Uncle Henry

Henry Holmes Smith, Bloomington, Indiana, 1973

Henry Holmes Smith taught photography at Indiana University, where he founded the first MFA program in Photography in the country. Henry had a unique way of making images, no doubt influenced by his former career as a cartoonist. He would use a thick, pitted and scratched piece of plate glass and draw on it with light and dark Caro Syrup. Under darkroom safe lights, he would place a piece of photographic paper behind the glass, stand the glass upright, causing the syrup to run, and then flash the sensitized paper with light. He would develop the print, and if he liked the results, would have it copied onto 4×5 film, which he could reproduce. He called these images Refraction Prints.

Below are ten of Henry’s Refraction Prints that are from Portfolio II: The Work of Henry Holmes Smith, produced and published by the Center for Photographic Studies, 1973.

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