How to print photos on glass

Written by will snizek
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How to print photos on glass
If you know how to develop film, printing to glass will be easy. (negative image by Charles Taylor from

If you are a photographer or artist, the idea of printing photographs on glass has probably crossed your mind. Artists have been printing photographs on surfaces other than paper since the beginning of photography. While printing photographs on glass is not a particularly difficult task for experienced photographers, it takes time and experimenting to get professional results. There are many ways to print photos on glass, but the absolute best is to use the classic direct liquid emulsion process. Knowledge of darkroom techniques is required for this tutorial.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Film camera
  • Complete darkroom
  • Glass
  • Matt medium
  • Liquid emulsion
  • Tape

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  1. 1

    Capture the image you want to print to glass using any film camera. Black and white photography works best for printing to glass, especially when you are a beginner.

  2. 2

    Select a small section of glass you wish to print to. Cover the edges of the glass with tape to avoid cutting yourself during the process. Thoroughly clean the glass. Any minute amount of dirt or debris on the glass will cause problems with the outcome.

  3. 3

    Apply a very thin layer of matt medium to the surface of the glass. The purpose of this step is to add slight texture to the glass in order for the emulsion to adhere to the surface. From this point forward, do not touch the surface of the glass with your fingers or other objects. Allow approximately 30 minutes for the matt medium to dry.

  4. 4

    Prepare the darkroom for processing like you would with a normal print. Turn your safelight on. From this point forward, you cannot allow direct light to shine on the glass. Bring the glass and film into the darkroom.

  5. 5

    Apply a generous amount of the liquid emulsion to the surface of the glass. Allow approximately 15 minutes for it to completely dry.

  6. 6

    Expose an image onto the glass in the same way you would expose a photograph onto paper. Exposure time may take more time than a usual print. For this step, you may have to experiment on several pieces of glass to get your desired effect.

Tips and warnings

  • Processing photographs onto glass is not an exact science and may take many tries to achieve the desired effect. Experiment with all steps until you reach your goal.

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