Chris McCaw is a fine-art photographer who shoots with large-format cameras (8 x 10, 16 x 20, or 20 x 24 inch), which he builds himself. Sunburns, as the series is titled, are unique images made as McCaw's camera lenses capture and intensify the sun's rays, which often burn a path across the paper.
McCaw explains: "When the conditions are right, the burning goes all the way through the paper base. The subject of the photograph reverses through solarization, and the unique paper negative becomes a one-of-a-kind paper positive . . . not only is the resulting image a representation of the subject photographed, but the subject, the sun, is an active participant in the printmaking . . . both creating and destroying the resulting photograph."
The images-subtle, elegant, and even slightly ominous-invite close scrutiny. The minimalist skylines or horizons, where visible, evoke the transitory nature of the elements in the locales where McCaw chooses to photograph: the desert, the sea, or the mountains.
Chris McCaw was born in the San Francisco Bay area in 1971 and has worked obsessively in the darkroom since the age of thirteen. Although initially self-taught-he spent his teenage years photographing the punk/skateboarding scene-McCaw later received a BFA from the Academy of Art College in 1995. His work has been shown at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Houston Center for Photography; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, New York; SF Camerawork, San Francisco; San Francisco International Airport Museum; and San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, among others. His work has been published in many magazines, including Daylight, View Camera, Photo Metro, Raygun, Thrasher, and Maximum Rock 'n' Roll. McCaw was recently the recipient of an Andy Warhol/Southern Exposure Grant. His work is in the collections of the George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; and many private collections.