Big girls’ pants

Today I pulled off co-ordinating summer holiday childcare with a friend’s free time and dark room availability and spent a sanity day making photograms with Holly.

I am both satisfied and excited by this work. For about a year I’ve been bumbling around the edges of my “Other people’s underwear” project, trying to bring that Fox Talbot salt print quality to contemporary smalls (which actually are not as small as I expected). I couldn’t get sun prints to work how I wanted them to and was limited by the small size of the paper/fabric squares. But photograms work well and I have the potential to use larger sheets of paper still. I love how the idea of curves is conveyed, and how the exquisite private detail of the lace makes it into public whilst retaining the anonymity of the knicker donors. I like that the photograms are life-size, there’s something great to me about recording these intimate garments at 1:1 scale, and I also like that in the same way as the lace touches our skin, the photogram is made by illuminating direct contact between the lace and the photographic paper. Whilst looking at one of these images draining on a plastic sheet, I was considering whether I would return to camera club this year and Holly considered the reception that a pants photogram might have. She makes a very good point, we certainly see enough “art” portraits of women in underwear at camera club competitions.

Anyway, here are some quick phone shots of the photograms. The borders are because the piece of glass used to hold everything down was smaller than the paper. Exposure was 10 seconds with the enlarger aperture wise open. The pants had to be cut at the sides and the gusset deconstructed, otherwise there was too much opacity. One pair were trimmed slightly to get them to fit the paper. The bra also had the foam cup lining removed, the underwires removed and the lining to the back band removed.


10 thoughts on “Big girls’ pants

  1. Holly Woodward August 17, 2018 / 7:02 pm

    Your work today was fab. Really enjoyed seeing it appear.

    • Kate August 17, 2018 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you. I’m still pretty thrilled with it.

  2. Catherine August 17, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    Wow – they’re certainly striking. Beautiful lacy patterns.

    • Kate August 17, 2018 / 8:32 pm

      Thanks Catherine. It definitely highlights the structure and delicacy of the fabric.

  3. Silvia Szucs Photography August 18, 2018 / 6:45 am

    The borders are beautiful, Kate, have you considered using them as part of the images? I find they “hold” the underwear up as an invisible clothing line. Great, interesting work as usual 🙂

    • Kate August 20, 2018 / 2:06 pm

      Thanks Silvia! I’m glad you find the work interesting, I’m quite excited about this project. I’m still exploring with the borders. I’d like to try the work without any, and see what happens with a more 3d effect, but also I like the idea of using the glass almost as a giant microscope slide with the lingerie specimen beneath it. There’s also the option of using a much larger piece of glass so I get a “flat” image with no borders, and your suggestion of using it as a washing line. I do like it, I wonder if it might be providing more context than I need to give however. Lots to think about!

  4. sarahdandrews August 20, 2018 / 7:59 am

    Beautiful and clever summer holiday multitasking!

    • Kate September 3, 2018 / 8:11 pm

      Hi Sarah, apologies – your comment was in my spam folder so I missed it. Thank you!

  5. alanbulley August 25, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    Those are beautiful images, Kate.

    • Kate August 28, 2018 / 11:42 am

      Thank you Alan. The postie has just arrived with the next set of eBay smalls so I’m looking forward to another darkroom session once school is back.

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