I’ve been teaching for nearly 30 years — college composition, writing and reading comprehension, African, Asian, and European social studies to middle schoolers, and photography full-time and as a guest lecturer to elementary, middle, and high school students as well as college students and adults…even a group of girl scout leaders who wanted to learn how to make pinhole cameras.

I teach individual tutorials, small group workshops, and special courses at the WoodsEdge studio in Chapel Hill, NC. In addition, I offer guest lectures and workshops at alternative sites upon arrangement. Courses range from beginner to advanced. WoodsEdge offers a small but exceptional darkroom facility large enough to handle up to 4 students at one time.

Introduction to Alternative Photography

Alternative photography generally, though not exclusively, refers to non-silver photographic methods. Most of these methods were developed in the first 50 years of photographic history when experimentation was the norm. Images produced today using various alternative methods are as beautiful and varied as ever. Learn about special lab procedures and equipment, how to enlarge negatives, size your paper, apply photo sensitive materials to the prepared paper, and then expose the print — either outdoors or indoors under a bank of UV lights. Many methods will be examined and you will gain hands-on experience in methods such as albumen, cyanotype, VanDyke, and gum bichromate photography.


Hands On: The Early History of Photography as Art

Beginning with the announcement of discovery in 1839, photography in the 19th century went through many changes and adaptations – chemical, physical and aesthetic. To gain credibility as an artistic media, it also imitated various artistic currents of the day. As photography evolved it served as a catalyst for new ideas that influenced how we see and interpret the world. Learn about this fascinating period in art history while experiencing several early photographic printing methods such as cyanotypes and gum bichromate. We’ll do some hands-on work with older photographic methods and look at the work of those who influenced an emerging art form — explorations that can prove stimulating to your understanding and practice of the art of photography.

Designed as an 11-week practicum combining slide lecture with hands on experiments that complement the slide lecture, Hands On ties together developments in the greater world of science and art before, during, and after 1839 and then the rapid fire diffusion of photography throughout mainstream art culture into the early 20th century.


Alan Dehmer’s Gum Bichromate Workshop (4 day)

When you get down to the particulars, and I do as much as the next gummist, there is no one particular way to make a gum print. Everyone seems to have their own unique way to do this or that. But putting aside the particulars, there are two fundamentally different approaches to gum printing. One way is to start with a single black and white negative to produce a single multi-coated/multi-exposed/multi-colored print. The other way is called three color or tri-color gum printing. Three color printing produces a full color image using three (or sometimes four) black and white separation negatives — CMYK.

I work with a single black and white negative to produce a single multi-coated/multi-exposed/multi-colored print – anywhere from three to twelve times before a print is “done.” I use dried pigments derived from plant matter or from earth minerals instead of the more typical watercolor tube pigments. Aside from the more organic nature of dried pigments, which appeals to me personally, they also come in a lot more colors and most of the time they’re a lot cheaper. You can even gather/extract your own!

I’ll teach you about special lab procedures and equipment, how to make digital negatives, size large batches of paper with gelatin (summer workshops only), mix and apply the dichromate-pigment-gum arabic solution to the sized paper. and then expose the print (indoors or out), and finally develop the print. Learning when to say ‘when’ in the developer tray and how to use color are discussed throughout. The aim of this workshop is to provide the skills necessary to achieve gum printing independence.

If you’re not local, please contact Alan Dehmer for meal and housing arrangements.

Pinhole for the Classroom (2 day)

Pinhole photography is a great way to introduce the magic of light and chemistry to all ages. Starting with just about any type of container that can be made light-tight — Pringles, Altoids and oatmeal cans are easy to find  and not too difficult to consume — you can teach anyone from elementary kids on up how light and chemistry combine to make photographic images. I’ve taught hundreds of kids (as well as some teachers) how to make them. Even after a year or two of instruction in general photography, many students have told me making pinhole images was their favorite lesson. I can come to your classroom and provide on-site support for setting up a temporary darkroom. I’ll do the teaching or I can teach you or a group of teachers how to do it yourself. It’s fun and it’s educational.