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istillshootfilm:

THE AFGHAN BOX CAMERA:

I recently stumbled upon this amazing video from a very cool organization called the Afghan Box Camera Project. The aim of the project is to document the now-dying art of street photography in Afghanistan. When I say, “street photography” I do not mean portraits and street scenes. I mean professional photographers who actually shoot identity photos for clients on the street. The video covers one of the last two remaining professional street photographers in Kabul, and shows how he uses an Afghan Box Camera to essentially develop and print negatives on the go.

Here’s an excerpt from the Afghan Box Camera Project’s website:

The Afghan Box Camera is a simple box-shaped wooden camera traditionally used by photographers working from a street pitch, who produce, by-and-large, instant identity portraits (akhs: عکس) for their clients. In Dari the camera is known as kamra-e-faoree, which means ‘instant camera’. It’s also less frequently called kamra-e-faoree-e-chobi (instant wooden camera) or kamra-e-chobi (wooden camera).

To translate: it’s a miniature portable darkroom - and it’s totally awesome. When I watched this video, the first thing it made me think of was the fact that 15 years ago, when every single photographer I knew shot film, they all dreamed (myself included) of having their own darkroom. However, many (again myself included) also had the conversation that they needed the space, the ventilation, the equipment and a whole bunch of other crap. Apparently, that was all a load of lazy-ass excuses considering this guy just busted out a darkroom in a small box and keeps his chemicals in water bottles. Just goes to show that if you’re creative and motivated enough you can come up with a solution for just about anything.

Here’s another video from the Afghan Box Camera Project explaining the box camera parts and how it works:

{Afghan Box Camera Parts from Afghan Box Camera on Vimeo}

So simple, but then again so complex. I think I’m in love. I almost want to make one… and for those of you who feel like I do, you’ll be happy to know that the ABCP provides some nifty tutorials on how to do so.

And for a final dose of nostalgia, I had to include this video showing a the very last man in Kabul who hand colors black and white photographs:

{How to hand color a black and white photograph from Afghan Box Camera on Vimeo}

Head on over to the Afghan Box Camera Project website for more info, videos, sample photos and tutorials.

Ah, so that’s what they look like. Simon Norfolk was talking about these when I saw him a couple of weeks ago and I’d been wondering. 

While I’m on the subject my favourite quote from the talk, apart from when he unexpectedly burst into song obviously, was “what I do is more about forensics and archaeology than it is landscape." That level of understanding a scene before  capture it is what makes what he does great.