Chris has been getting his hands wet in the darkroom from the age of 13, and since then he has been unable separate his personal life from his photographic life. In a constant state of production of photographic work from that early age, he continues to be excited about the medium. 

The early years involved self taught explorations in skateboarding/ zine /punk scenes with a fisheye lens and Tri-X through the mid-late 80’s. After high school he learned everything he could about photography. Finally he fell in love with the simplicity of large format cameras, and in 1992 got his first 4”x5”. The following year he fell in love with the platinum/palladium printing process and even larger cameras. To this day Chris makes his living through the platinum/palladium process. Currently he’s working the boundaries of analogue photographic mediums with his project titled Sunburn.


b. Daly City, CA, 1971


    • 1995

      • B.F.A. Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA

    • 1990

      • De Anza College, Cupertino, CA


    • 2018

      • New Works, Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA

    • 2017

      • Time and Tides, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA

    • 2016

      • Direct Positive, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY

    • 2012

      • Marking Time, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY

    • 2011

      • Ride into the Sun, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA

    • 2010

      • Sunburned, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA

    • 2008

      • New work from the Sunburn Project, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, NY

      • Sunburn, SF Camerawork, San Francisco, CA

      • Sunburns, Duncan Miller Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

    • 2003

      • Powerhouse, Family Farm and Travelogue, Image/Imatge Gallery, Orthez, FR


    • 2019

      • A Cure For Everything, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA

      • Painting with Light, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY

      • The Polaroid Project, Musee McCord, Montreal

      • The Sheltering Sky, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA

      • The Polaroid Project, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore

      • Ansel Adams in Our Time, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Musuem of Fine Arts, Boston

    • 2018

      • Ansel Adams in Our Time, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

      • The Polaroid Project, C/O Berlin, Berlin

      • The Polaroid Project, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg

      • 10,000 Fahrenheit, San Francisco arts Commission, San Francisco, CA

      • New Territory: Landscape Photography Today, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO

      • Way Bay 2, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA

      • The Polaroid Project, WestLicht Museum for Photography, Vienna

    • 2017

      • The Basilisk, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

      • The Polaroid Project, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX

      • Sea Views, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

      • Low Fidelity, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA

      • Phenomenon, Bolinas Art Museum, Bolinas, CA

    • 2016

      • A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age, George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY

      • Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World, MOCA, Jacksonville

      • The Sun Placed in the Abyss, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH

      • Berkeley Eye: Perspectives on the Collection, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA

      • I Am the Sun, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILn the Digital Age, George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY

      • Touch the Sky: Art and Astronomy, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

      • This is a Photograph, Penland Gallery, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC

      • Defying Darkness: Photography at Night, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA

      • Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, TX

    • 2015

      • Photography and the Scientific Spirit, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI

      • The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Acquired with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

      • Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA

    • 2014

      • Modern Alchemy: Experiments in Photography, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY

      • After Ansel Adams, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA

    • 2013

      • Reality Check, Bakalar & Paine Galleries, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA

      • With a Trace: Photographs of Absence, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH

      • Currents: Photographs from the Collection of Allen Thomas Jr., Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, NC

      • Landmark: The Fields of Photography, Somerset House Trust, London, UK

      • Light Sensitive: Photographic Works from North Carolina Collections, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC

    • 2011

      • Sun Works, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA

      • Bending the Light, Oakland International Airport Exhibition, Oakland, CA

      • Heavens: Photographs of the Sky and Cosmos, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

      • Seeing is Knowing: the Universe, Perlman Teaching Museum, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

      • Out of the Dark Room, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland

      • Pure Photography, Post Production and Mixed Media, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ

      • California Continued: New Approaches in West Coast Photography, Smith Anderson North, San Anselmo, CA

      • EcoArchive: Meditations on Time and Nature, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA

      • Open Season, Flanders Gallery, Raleigh, NC

    • 2010

      • The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

      • Redisplay of the Photography Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

      • Past Forward: Marking Time in Recent Photography, Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

      • Exposed: Today’s Photography/Yesterday’s Technology, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, CA

      • Elemental, photo-eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

      • Edges of Light: Explorations of the Photographic Process, ArtsBenicia, Benicia, CA

      • State of Mind: A California Invitational, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA

      • An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area Part 2: The Future Lasts Forever, SF Camerawork, San Francisco, CA

      • Burning Desire, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, New York, NY

    • 2009

      • Surface Tension: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

      • The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography, Aperture Gallery, NY

      • 10 × 10 × 10: An Invitational Exhibition, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA

      • Transmutations, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, NY

      • Landmark, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA

      • Keeping Time, Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA

    • 2008

      • Landscape/Other, Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, CA

      • People & Places, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC

      • Each Sun, Togonon Gallery, San Francisco, CA

      • Grace, PEER Gallery, New York, NY

      • Mineral, Hous Projects, New York, NY

      • Sunburn, The Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene, TX

    • 2007

      • Time Tracers, Center of Photography, Woodstock, NY

      • Sunburn, Houston Center of Photography, Houston, TX

      • Strange Weather, David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco, CA

      • Sunburn, Burien Art Gallery, Burien , WA

      • Sunburns and Platinum Work, Moab Art Works, Moab, UT

      • Lucky Day, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA

    • 2006

      • Sunburned & Waterlogged, Gallery of Urban Art, Oakland, CA

      • Eyewitness II, UC Berkeley School of Journalism, Berkeley, CA

      • Platinum Places, Watermark Fine Art, Houston, TX

      • Outmoded, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

      • Lost Out West, 19th & Union Gallery, Oakland, CA

      • Contemporary Landscape, Baxter/Chang/Patri Fine Art, San Francisco, CA

      • The Family Farm, San Francisco International Airport Museum, CA

    • 2005

      • Romancing the Shadows, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA

      • Contemporary American Photography, Internationale Fototage Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, Germany

      • Vital Signs, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

      • The Family Farm, Watermark Fine Art, Houston, TX

      • Travelogue, Fusion Artspace, San Francisco, CA

    • 2004

      • Live Free or Die, Freewheel, San Francisco, CA

    • 2003

      • Chris McCaw-American Photographs, Image/Imatge Gallery, Orthez, France

    • 2002

      • Identity, San Francisco Main Library, San Francisco, CA

    • 2001

      • SF Camerawork, Fine Print Collection, San Francisco, CA

      • Vivid, SF Camerawork, San Francisco, CA

    • 2000

      • Timeless Light, Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland, OR

    • 1999

      • Portraits, Bloom Studio, Oakland, CA

    • 1998

      • Road Trip Documents, Spindler, San Francisco, CA

    • 1995

      • Graduate show, Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA

    • 1993

      • Friends of the South Bay Punk Scene, The Other Gallery, De Anza College, Cupertino, CA

    • 1991

      • Infrared Views, The Other Gallery, De Anza College, Cupertino, CA


    • 2014

      • Emerging Icon in Photography, George Eastman House, International Museum of Film and Photography, Rochester, NY

    • 2008

      • New Works Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation / SF Camerawork, San Francisco, CA

    • 2007

      • Alternative Exposure Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation / Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA

    • 1996

      • Honorable Mention, Photo Metro, Photography Contest Issue

    • 1992

      • John Long Memorial Photography Scholarship, De Anza College, Cupertino, CA


    • Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA

      1. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ

      2. Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH

      3. Crocker Art Museum Sacramento, CA

      4. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA

      5. Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

      6. George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY

      7. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

      8. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

      9. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

      10. Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA

      11. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

      12. Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA

      13. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

      14. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arty, Kansas City, MO

      15. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

      16. Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA

      17. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

      18. Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR

      19. Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ

      20. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA

      21. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

      22. National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

      23. University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

      24. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

      25. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY


    • 2016

      • Knoblauch, Loring. “Chris McCaw, Direct Positive @ Yossi Milo.” Collector Daily 28 March 2016.

      • Latimer, Bronwen. “Artistry and chemistry: A new way to look at the old practices of photography.” Washington Post. 28 March 2016.

      • Bourland, Ian. “Critics’ Picks.” Artforum 18 March 2016.

      • Newman, Clemency. "A Heliocentric Fixation." Guide to Unique Photography 48. 2016.

    • 2015

      • Harren, Natilee. “Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography,” Artforum. September 2015

      • Harlan, Becky. “When the Sun Burns a Hole in Your Photo.” National Geographic: Proof 18 June 2015

      • Ollman, Leah. “’Light, Paper, Process’ an inventive subversion of photography,” Los Angeles Times 1 May 2015

      • Adamek, Pauline. “’Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography’ at the Getty – Los Angeles photo exhibition review.” Arts Beat LA 30 April 2015

      • Schoener, Allon. “Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography at The Getty.” Cultural Weekly 30 April 2015

      • Wallis, Brian. “’Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography.’” ArtForum 2015

      • Riefe, Jordan. “Lights! Camera! Bodily Fluids! Photographers bend the rules.” The Guardian 17 April 2015

      • Keats, Jonathon. “Darkroom, Redux? Chemistry Bests Megapixels at the Getty’s New Photography Show.” Forbes 14 April 2015

      • Dillon, Stephen. “Photographer Chris McCaw Uses the Sun to Burn Its Own Image.” Artsy 27 February 2015

      • Burgett, Gannon. “A look into the life and work of ‘Sunburn’ photographer Chris McCaw.” Imaging Resource 2 February 2015

    • 2014

      • “Images of a Generation: 25 Year Timeline of What Mattered Most in Photography.” American Photo 15 December 2014

      • Wender, Jessie. “What Does A Photograph Sound Like?” The New Yorker, Photo Booth 30 July 2014

      • Hirsch, Robert. “Chris McCaw.” Transformational Imagemaking, Handmade Photography since 1960Focal Press, Waltham, MA [book]

    • 2012

      • Johnson, Ken. “Chris McCaw: ‘Marking Time.’” The New York Times 28 December 2012

      • “Chris McCaw ‘Marking Time,’ Critics’ Pick” Time Out New York December 27 2012

      • “Chris McCaw.” The New Yorker 24 December 2012

      • Horne, Rebecca. “Sunburn Can Be a Beautiful Thing.” Discover Magazine 5 December 2012

      • Books, Candela. “The Best Books Of 2012.” PhotoEye Magazine, December 2012

      • Ollman, Leah. “Art Review: Astonishing photographs track the sun’s scorching path.” The Los Angeles Times 22 October 2012

      • George, Lynell. “Chris McCaw’s Scorched Photography.” Los Angeles Times 2012

      • Rose, Brian. “Photographer Chris McCaw, at De Anza College.” La Voz Weekly 21 March 2012

    • 2011

      • Photo District News, June 2011

    • 2010

      • Smyth, Diane. “Self-Made Men: Building Your Own Cameras,” British Journal of Photography, December

      • Prince, Andrew. “’Sunburn’ Photography, No SPF Necessary, NPR, The Picture Show, 15 November 2010

      • Kelly, Anne. “Chris McCaw on his Sunburn Series,” PhotoEye Blog, 12 October 2010

      • Polednik, Marcelle. “Chris McCaw and the Cutting Edge of Photography,” B&W Magazine, October 2010

      • View Camera Magazine, July/August 2010

      • Cheng, Dewitt. “Chris McCaw & Mario Giacomelli @ Stephen Wirtz,” Square, 17 March 2010

      • Shumacher, Mary Louise. “Chris McCaw at Stephen Wirtz in San Francisco,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4 March 2010

      • PQ, A Journal For Contemporary Photography, Number 99, Volume 25, 2010

      • Baker, Kenneth. “Giacomelli and McCaw at Wirtz,” San Francisco Chronicle, 27 March 2010

      • Moya, Laura. Critic's Pick, Griffin Museum of Photography website, 2010

    • 2009

      • “In the Sky: The Sunburn Series, 2007-2008, by Chris McCaw.” SeeSaw Online Magazine: Issue 11, Winter 2009

      • Stockdale, Douglas. Chris McCaw, Sunburn, Book Review, The PhotoBook, 8 December 2009

      • Ollman, Leah. “Black Hole Sun: Chris McCaw burns a photograph,” Art on Paper, May/June 2009

      • Artkopel Online French Publication

    • 2008

      • Sempere, Thom. “Chris McCaw.” Cavallo Point 2008

      • George, Lynell. “Chris McCaw’s scorched photography.” Los Angeles Times 25 May 2008

    • 2007

      • Daylight Magazine, Fall 2007

      • View Camera Magazine, July/August 2007

    • 2005

      • 7. International Fototage Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, Das Bild Forum, Germany, 2005

    • 2003

      • Recontres Photographiques Image/Imatge, Annexe H, 2003

    • 2002

      • View Camera, Volume 15, Number 4, July/August 2002

    • 2001

      • SF Camerawork Journal of Photographic Art, Volume 28, Number 2, 2001

    • 2000

      • Raygun, September/October 2000

    • 1998

      • Photo Metro, Issue 151, October 1998

    • 1996

      • Photo Metro, Contest Issue, Honorable Mention. 1996

    • 1994

      • Thrasher, August 1994

    • 1992

      • Maximum Rock & Roll, March 1992