Tag Archives: photography

Back to gum printing

I’ve been promising myself for a while that I would get back to doing some gum printing. For one reason or another it hasn’t happened, though I have written articles on the subject on a number of occasions, -but for those I have used existing prints, done quite a bit ago.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.31.48

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.32.49

In October, I was in conversation with a friend; Maxwell Doig, who is a very good painter. I was at his house and he had an old gum print of mine framed on the wall in his studio. It was so old I had totally forgotten doing it, but it was nice to see it from the viewpoint of a newcomer. We got into conversation about the process and Max encouraged me to do more with it. I had intended to get right onto it, but only got as far as pre shrinking the paper until yesterday when I made gum prints all day. It was a real treat to get back into it again and having so much uninterrupted time meant that I could fully concentrate on it. Gum printing is quite a slow, labour intensive process, but it is very rewarding. It requires the image to be printed more than once to give depth to the tones, and the images shown here have all had four separate coatings and exposures.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.33.05

The greatest difficulty in the process is devising some way of getting your negative back in registration with the image for the second, third, or fourth exposure. Even though I had pre shrunk the paper by soaking it in alternate hot and cold trays of water, it still altered size enough to ruin a number of prints.

If you fancy having a go at it, there are many videos on Youtube, but they don’t give you much information about the finer points. I will put a PDF copy of a recent article in Dropbox here, for those who wish to read more on it.



  1. Oscar Carlsson

Posted 07/01/2014 at 7:37 pm

I really like that last image, it is very tender and carefully treated.

  1. wayne

Posted 11/01/2014 at 4:23 pm

The gumprint of the dog and girl is stunning

  1. Thomas Binsfeld

Posted 05/03/2014 at 1:43 pm

The technique fits to the image of the trees shown very good. I like it very much.
I am interested in alternative processes but only have experience in lith-printing.
Often my own images are too sharp, too much like a photo, but I do not know how to alter this.
I have seen some cyanotypes and like those too.
The reason I do not comment often is, because english is not my mother tongue.
I am usually only reading, but this time I pushed the comment button

  1. Chris

Posted 13/03/2014 at 3:39 pm

Love these pictures. Will have to give it a go once my darkroom is built. Thanks for posting these.

  1. Vanessa Marsh

Posted 20/03/2014 at 10:08 pm |

I am a photographer working in Oakland, CA and just came across your blog and website in my research on paper negatives. Thank you for providing this wonderful resource!

  1. Bob

Posted 28/06/2014 at 6:08 pm

A good rag paper hardly moves but even the cheapest watercolour paper can be tamed by saturating the BACK of the paper with water using a brush. The important thing happening here is that the size WON’T WASH OUT, and with a good well sized rag paper and the useful amount of preshrinking you should have very little problem with reregistering.

Magazine articles

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to write a post on a series of articles that I’ve had published in Amateur Photographer. Ollie Atwell from the magazine contacted me some time ago and asked me if I’d be interested in describing how and why I had taken some of my pictures. The articles are under the heading of ‘Photo insight’ and so far Ollie has chosen many of my personal favourites. He has very kindly allowed me to reproduce the articles here, so I have added links to the articles on the AP website.

French bed Photo insight Jun 2014 Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 07.37.43 Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 07.46.29 Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 07.51.23Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 07.49.32


11 February 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538678/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-woodland-west-yorkshire

10 march 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538673/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-bucking-horse

14 April 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538736/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-steam-train

12 May 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538799/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-cromer-norfolk

9 June 2012  http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538986/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-portrait-image

30 June 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/538911/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-two-cows

14 July 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/534541/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-child-in-a-forest

4 August 2012  http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/539035/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-reservoir

25 August 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/539077/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-family-feet

29 September 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/539222/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-edge-of-the-woods

13 October 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/539286/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-gate-in-morning-light

17 November 2012   http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/539353/photo-insight-with-andrew-sanderson-amaryllis-flower


Words are the enemy

First posted 19 August 2011

In my opinion, there has been far too much written about photography throughout it’s history. The intensity is increasing and unfortunately I’m going to add another few hundred words here;
As a practicing photographer I am concerned with staying as ‘visual’ as I can be, for as much of the day as is possible. Modern life dictates that we deal with many distractions, and much of this involves paperwork or computers.
In my job as head of analogue photography at a University in the UK, I have quite a lot of this stuff to deal with and let me tell you -it totally scrambles my brain.
Whenever I have to write a report, read an essay on this or that, I am a million miles away from being visual.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.36.05

Now I believe that to be fully visual you must empty your head of words. Words are the enemy, and they will distract you and smother your creativity. Reading/writing uses a totally different area of the brain from seeing photographically and you must switch off the voices to be able to make full use of your eyes.
For many years I was able to indulge myself in a world dominated by the visual, but as life has got faster and busier the visual has got pushed further and further back.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.39.00

Because I can’t think that way every hour of the day, I set myself a little task to think about everything around me as a possible picture ten times a day. So whenever the little reminder pops into my head I switch off from what I’m thinking about and look for a composition. Often, it is not possible to actually take the picture, because I may be driving or in the bath, but it is still a useful exercise to keep the visual part of my mind alive to picture opportunities.



  1. Posted 19/08/2011 at 10:05 am

    I couldn’t agree more Andrew. The world is full of distractions and it is so easy to get caught up in daily life and forget to look around you. One of my new resolutions is to look up towards the sky more.

  2. Jen
    Posted 19/08/2011 at 4:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Andrew. That was my problem in 2nd year, too much reading/writing about photography and not doing the kind of work i enjoy. All change in 3rd year though!

  3. Gary Liggett
    Posted 28/09/2011 at 12:04 pm

    Bang on! For me, the rot started when Art Colleges – which were entirely focussed on the creative, were subsumed into effing universities. Whoever learned how to be creative by writing about it? Did the success of Van Gough or Monet depend on a 2000 word essay? I bet some of the greatest artists in history couldn’t even write, but they could paint a 1000 words, and then some.

    When I was at art college, I was fortunate to be taught by a master, who taught me how to visualise a scene… to think in pictures…think about the way I should compose image to the best creative effect. The camera was only brought in at the last moment to record what I saw and wanted to portray. None this ‘looking through the viewfinder and shooting away’ like an American tourist in the hope that one of the frames ‘turned out right’. In that respect, on of my heroes is Thomas Joshua Cooper. He travels to the farthest corners of the planet and makes just on photograph. All of this stood me in good stead when I was making films – I had to think is moving images, which fell continuously one after the other 1/25th of a second at a time.

    Likewise, I spend weeks planning and thinking visually about a photograph: when the light will do its thing for me; when the landscape will look how I want it. On the right day, at the right time, I make sure I am there with my trusty old Thornton Pickard half-plate or my Houghton Ensign 6×9 to allow the beautiful light to fall onto the emulsion.


First posted 1 January 2011

Have you ever thought about your own perception? How distorted it can be and how easily it can be influenced?
How can you or I see things and understand things correctly? and what exactly IS ‘correctly’? Should we strive to represent things accurately?
Personally I enjoy having my perception changed -and thinking about it I’m pretty certain most others do too, though only in certain ways.
Comedy for instance, works because it leads you into what you think you know, then changes your perception at the end.
Drama and Films work the same way, we all like a thriller or a film that has twists and turns. The change in perception is what makes it interesting.
In music, I find a piece more of a fascination if it continues to surprise me, even after many years of listening.

I have tried to do this in some areas of my own work, seeing things or portraying things in a way which surprises the viewer.
For example, in this simple rock study there is nothing more than a random arrangement of boulders lit by a shaft of light. But if you turn your head to the right so that the left hand side of this image becomes the bottom, you will hopefully see a face.

1509 rock face 1

So I would suggest that a literal representation of a subject is not always the best option. it is fine for many subjects, but keep your mind open to the possibility that you can have more impact sometimes if you keep some ambiguity or surprise. Find ways of seeing and representing which lead the viewer a certain way, then twist their perception. It’s fun for the viewer and it’s fun for the photographer.

Some of the methods which can bring this about are pretty obvious; scale, angle of view, and putting things in a setting which is out of context.

This kind of work demands that the photographer is visually aware for the greater part of each day, as these opportunities don’t crop up very often. Just taking the camera out once a week or less is not going to give a very high hit rate. Be aware, -keep looking, -keep thinking and you will see images.

Let me know how you get on.

One Comment

  1. Posted 02/01/2011 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Cool photo, The big boulder on the left is the chin
    & the crack is the mouth, and the bright bolder in the
    middle/right with one courner round and a slight hook on the other
    is the nose. Nicely done… like it… :-)

Too much to do, not enough time

First posted 23 November 2010

I’ve been conscious, that for a while my blog posts have not been as frequent as I would like. I have so many things taking up my time and I am pulled in so many directions, -something has to give.
Well, quite a few things have to give actually, I’ve got about forty films sitting in my darkroom waiting to be processed, a box of exposed 5×4 sheets (no idea how many) a few 10×8 sheets and a lot of tidying and sorting of the darkroom and studio. A LOT.
I also have ten years worth of negatives which have never been printed which I’m dying to delve into.
I don’t seem to have the time to contribute to photography forums or even keep up with emails.
I don’t have a television to distract me and I survive quite well on five hours sleep a night, so where is the time going?

I’m not going to bore you all with a list of the things I have to do, I just wanted to say that life often gets in the way of what is important and I feel that I perhaps need to put my own work ahead of other responsibilities sometimes.
When I’m on my deathbed, will I be proud of my output? or will I be glad I kept the lawn neat?

2218 lost duckling


  1. Posted 23/11/2010 at 12:46 pm

    My list is longer than your list ;)

    At the moment (and for the next couple of years) my time is family intense with kids exams etc then hopefully there will be space for all the projects I want to do, if I’m lucky.
    I guess being out of the whole loop of what’s going on in the art world doesn’t really matter, it’ll still be there when I try to pick up again.

  2. Posted 23/11/2010 at 2:06 pm

    That sounds so familiar! Life has this annoying habit of getting in the way of things. I finally came around to processing my films today (still not all of them) which have been sitting in my darkroom for months so I understand where you’re coming from. Good luck with all that!


  3. Dayn
    Posted 23/11/2010 at 2:13 pm

    “Here lies Andrew Sanderson.
    Erstwhile photographer.
    He kept a tidy lawn”

    Sounds good to me. ;-)

  4. mark lacey
    Posted 25/11/2010 at 11:54 pm

    What was that famous quote, “life is what happens while your planning what to do with your life” or something like that. I have a big family at home and everything takes at least three times longer than I ever planned it to.
    I never ever let films hang around, I can’t wait to see if they’ve turned out ok, but printing is quite another thing, I don’t think I’ll ever catch up.
    I even tried doing nothing but 8×10 contact printed and I still could not keep up, perhaps one has to be like a monk and focus on this to the exclusion of everything else, only trouble is bills still have to be paid and that bloody grass keeps growing!

    May the light stay good for you, Mark.


First posted 11 January 2010

I’ve been thinking recently about how I see myself as a photographer/artist and how my students see themselves. They generally downgrade themselves with comments like; ‘I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be shooting this kind of stuff’ ‘Is this ok?’ and ‘I feel like I’ll never be as good as you’. The trouble with this kind of thought is that it keeps the student in a state of indecision and negativity. How can this progress into ‘I am a photographer and I feel confident in my ability and vision, -look out world, here I come’.

At what point do we morph from indecisive blundering to confident artist? The technical stuff can be learned, but when do you consider you have got to a point where you can hold your poise in a room full of good or great photographers?? For myself, I often thought I was not good enough, and I used to think that was normal.

I assumed that all other photographers felt that their work wasn’t up to standard.

I tried hard, kept learning and trying new techniques, always pushing myself to be better. I mastered various techniques and then moved on to others like I was passing exams. I did nothing with the finished pictures, they just sat in boxes at home. I would occasionally show them to friends, but never thought they were good enough for anything else.

Then I was pushed into taking my work around various galleries and publishers in London by my (then) first wife.

She booked a coach and arranged for us to stay somewhere, so I looked up a few galleries and publishers and we traveled down for a few days. From that visit I got a few prints in a group show in a small gallery.

chimneys, rotcher

The boost that show gave me created a greater urge to improve and learn, so I applied myself to a greater degree, but I didn’t try to be a commercial photographer or earn money from it, because I never saw myself as ‘qualified’ yet.

I was eventually persuaded by a good friend to enter the world of commercial photography and so I began to tout my folio around advertising and design agencies. By this time I had been doing photography seriously for eight years.

I found work pretty quickly, but after a few years of this kind of photography I realised it wasn’t for me. I eventually pulled out and made money by doing non photographic work.

I can say with all honesty, that each day I worked in these various trades I was thinking to myself that I wasn’t meant to do this, I should be doing photography. I knew I was in the wrong place and I knew I was wasting valuable photography time. This convinced me that photography was my calling, I had to take it more seriously and to see myself in a different way, which I did. Once I stopped seeing myself as an amatuer who happened to have a few strong shots, and to re-brand myself as someone who had a mission to be part of the real world of photography (at least the part of it that my style of photography fitted into), things really started to take off. I wasn’t snapping away, waiting to see if it came out, I was really thinking about how I saw things.

2527 collander, eggs

Some of the strongest images in my portfolio were taken in those years. My life was busier than it had ever been, with three small children to look after and a gallery to run, but I was on fire! That simple change in my perception of myself and my work improved my output in a really profound way.

1756 dads lily

Nowadays, when my students have achieved a certain level of ability I tell them to see themselves as photographers, not students, even if they are still in the education system. I believe that self belief is crucial to your personal development. Not a deluded kind of self belief which shouts from the rooftops, but a sense that you are on a mission to produce something of value to the world.


  1. Posted 11/01/2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I have always found the hardest part has been to take myself seriously! This maybe because I am not a professional but a true amateur. My eyes were opened last year when someone I paid very good money for an image at a Paris Foto Show. I must admit to feeling that I do not want my images to sell for lots of money and that I’d love for lots of people to pay a little and the thought that I have somehow made someone happy with that which I have produced. When do we become photographers is an interesting discussion – for me it is seeing images all around when I am not really looking – more often than not it is someone I have seen and I immediately think I’d love to make a portrait with you…

  2. Posted 12/01/2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, I guess I just love thinking about photography and making pictures.
    I can’t sell myself, I don’t usually say I’m a photographer, I just say I like taking pictures.
    Maybe until I’m actually making money from it then I will always consider it a hobby.
    So at the moment saying “i’m a photographer” feels that I’d be misleading people.
    It’s a confidence thing for sure.

  3. Posted 12/01/2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    It is fear!

    I am a photographer – how good I am is for other people to assess based on their perceptions, biases and interests.

    Vicky – I would call you a photographer and feel that the title entirely appropriate.

  4. Posted 13/01/2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Yes indeed, so difficult. For me it has been taking some time out of other work to devote my energy to a 2 year MA in photographic Studies. This level of commitment to my photography set something up that has been so rewarding – a community of fellow students and a structure. I needed that level of interaction with other artists to see myself and my own work more clearly. And I miss it now its over; I’m hitting the ‘what’s next’ and trying to hold on to the energy of the past two years. I’m in danger of not fully taking in that I am a photographer, perhaps that is why I am looking here…

    Good wishes to you, and thank you for sharing your experiences here.

  5. lmend
    Posted 03/02/2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    thank you for this post! this is a constant struggle for me; i especially appreciate your enlightenment.