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Mentoring Programme

French photographer of Czech origin Martin Becka visited the Department of Photography for the second time and guided a workshop focused on photography techniques of the past from 17 to 25 April 2024. Students gained insights and skills involved in the process known as the gum prints. The workshop was held at ÚVS Beroun in cooperation with FAMU’s Studio of Classic Photography.   

Martin Becka was born in Brno in 1956, and has lived and worked in France since 1968. He started his career as a photo reporter in 1981 and worked as a freelance photographer for French periodicals until 1999. Along the way, he took interest in the history of photography and explored pre-industrial photography processes. His photography series focus on the urban space, landscape, and human traces and influence. Martin Becka asks how we organise the present time and what our hopes for the future are. He purports to share a deeper understanding of and thoughts on the meaning and beauty of what we build and the space we live in. In his photographic work, he uses techniques that date back to the era when photography was invented. Since 1995, his photographs have been regularly shown in both individual and group exhibitions in France and elsewhere on the international art scene.



The gum prints were first presented at the Photo Club Paris circle by Rouillé-Ladevèze in 1894. The same year Demachy and Maskell exhibited gum prints at the London Salon. This technique used alone or printed over the Platinum prints permit to produce some majors artistic works in the history of photography. Gum print was used by Puyo, Demachy, Steichen, Maskell, Kühn, Drtikol and other in the first half of the XXth century. At the end of the XXth century gum printing become popular again and are currently exhibited now on the photographic scene by young photographers. The goal of this workshop is to make discover this printing technique, for the students teaching photographs restoring it's a opportunity to understand deeply the technology of this print process.

The gum process is a part of the family of photographic direct carbon printings methods in which a pigment is mixed with a colloid (albumen, gelatin, casein, starch, gum... ). The mixture associate pigment, colloid and sensitizer is applied as a coating on the paper.  The exposure under a negative make the organic matter insoluble in the parts exposed to the light , while the unexposed portion can be washed away. Simple or multiple layer printing methods can be used to produce monochrome or color prints. Build layer by layer a print improve his density and permit to work in different colors. This methodology was first proposed by Puyo in the beginning of the XX century, in modern era some printers used it again.

The goal in this workshop limited time was to print a quadrichromy color gum print in 4 layers.


Photo: Department of Photography