Scannography: Photography without Camera

In my previous post about the 31 Hari Memotret photo project, I had once mentioned that I was interested in trying on scannography. Not really familiar with this term? In short, it’s something unique and challenging in photography.

Well, if I might describe it, I would say that scannography is “photography without a camera”. Whew, how can that be possible, while for a long time we have always believed that photography would always include a camera? As the term itself might signify, the presence of a camera is replaced by a scanner in scannography. Hence, it is possible to create images without the need for a camera.


Is scannography a genre in photography, then? In my opinion, yes it is. Let’s take a look on the definition of photography: “the process of producing images of objects on photosensitive surfaces”. You see, the definition does not mention that it should always include a camera as the primary gear. The photosensitive surfaces can be anything; scanner is one of them.

I have heard many people considered scannography as being more a visual art than photography. Some others classified it into the contemporary photography genre. I quite agree with them, actually. But, whatever it is defined as, it clearly offers a way for us to be creative. No camera? Photography still goes on! ^^

"Snow White"

It’s a blessing that I work in a photography community. It has given me a lot of chances to learn new things, meet new friends, and share with them. The photography magazine I am working for had once discussed about scannography on one of its volumes, presenting the essay and works from a renowned contemporary photographer, Angki Pu. When reading the article and looking at the images, I wondered how it would work. “You’ll never know till you’ve tried”. So, finally, I gave myself a try on it.

"Flashlight off"

On the first time trying on scannography, the first difficulty I met was that I needed any companion to help me. As my left hand keeping the cover of the scanner open to create black background, my right hand pressed the mouse—which replaced the function of a shutter button. I could do it myself. Still, when I was about to take pictures of myself—even if it’s only one of my hand, I needed somebody else to help me hold the scanner cover.


My first try resulted in 5 images—I planned to use some for the 31 Hari Memotret project. From this session, there are several lessons I gained:

  1. Clean the surface of the scanner’s mirror first. Dusts and other dirt might result in white flecks on the images.
  2. Keep the room in dim light. It’s better to set the room similar to a darkroom with total darkness. This is significant in creating good contrast and avoiding ghosting and flares.
  3. Build your concept first. Scannography is not an instant project. You need to set up a clear concept, have some modification, and then put it into realization.
  4. Always preview your setting first before scanning. If anything is not in place, you can always check it by previewing it first.

Okay, that’s enough for the first chance. Next, I’m going to set some new concepts and give myself further try on scannography. It’s a real fun, really! 🙂

*Note: all photographs were taken using CanonScan 4400F


2 thoughts on “Scannography: Photography without Camera

  1. It is such a wonderful idea to use scanner for photography…
    Is it using 600 dpi color scanning?? How if we use lower?? ;D
    But not easy to make a dark room on my office… ^^

    Nice idea, wid!!!

    1. hi, Rina,, long time no see,, ^^
      as far as i know, the minimum dpi is 300.. i haven’t tried using lower one, but i suspect it will result in high noise level..
      about the darkroom, perhaps you can wait until the other staffs have gone home? 😀

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