A look into the life and work of ‘Sunburn’ photographer Chris McCaw

by Gannon Burgett

posted Monday, February 2, 2015 at 7:51 AM EST


Ted Forbes has shared his latest video from The Art of Photography; a splendid overview of one of the most interesting photographers out there. His name is Chris McCaw and from the age of 13 he’s been knuckles deep in photo chemicals and film spools, learning every in-and-out of photography.

McCaw started his photographic work as a teenager, shooting rolls of Tri-X through his fisheye lens for a number of skateboard and punk magazines. Throughout high school and into secondary education, McCaw became more intimate with the art of photography, eventually finding his niche in the world of large format photography.

Not long after picking up his first 4x5 in 1992, he became enamored with the platinum/palladium printing process, which would become his livelihood for many years to come. This, in turn, led him to even larger format cameras.

Seemingly unimpressed with even the largest of cameras, McCaw eventually turned to a more DIY means of image-making. With recycled optics and camera bodies made from wheelchairs and wagons, he quickly started to redefine the art of large format photography.

After a happy accident of sorts, McCaw began using these large, home-brew cameras and expired film paper for an intriguing process that would soon make up most of his portfolio. He referred to the resulting, solarized images as ‘Sunburn’, which has been in taking shape in some form or another since 2003.

In it, he takes long exposure photographs of the sun and the landscape it illuminates. As the sun moves in the sky it literally burns a hole in the fibre of the paper, leaving a physical scar of where the sun has been across a desert sky or abstracted mountain range.

As pointed out by Forbes in the video overview of McCaw’s work, these prints are best seen in person, as it incorporates a physical, textural approach that isn’t often seen in photography.

As with all The Art of Photography videos, the last two minutes of the twelve-minute video are an ad, so consider this your disclaimer. That aside, it’s a fantastic look into the world of a photographer who is continuing to put out unique and impressive work.

To see more of McCaw’s work online, you can head on over to his website, here.