Jaipur And The Ultimate Hipster Camera
What’s cooler than shooting film? Shooting with a camera that uses neither film, nor digital media. Recently I saw just that, a 150 year old camera, at work on the streets of India.
It’s a cliche; hipsters love film cameras (yes, I did say we should stop using the word “hipster”) But, when I was in Jaipur recently, I couldn’t help but wonder what my retro camera, film and polaroid loving friends would make of photographer Tikam Chand. This guy is cool beyond words, his workflow is not only pre-digital, it’s pre-film!
How cool is that!
Tikam (with his brother and assistant Surendar) work on the streets of Jaipur, with a 150 year old Carl Zeiss box camera, shooting portraits in a style that is like a living window into the history of photography. You pay your money, sit in front of his camera amidst the cows, traffic and passing shoppers, then wait as the negative is processed, developed, exposed and turned into a black and white image.
Health and safety fanatics would be a little freaked out by the all the chemicals being used out in the open, with no protective gloves or masks. It’s a totally artisanal process, which is to say, it’s real hand made craft.
I’m not about to trade my digital cameras for anything as arcane as this. But, I did enjoy the experience of watching a photo being made in this way. The process is slow, but not painfully so. And, the results are impressive, not because of the hyper-technical reasons we sometimes use to judge images today, but because they has a vibe to them, a tooled and styled look, which gave the images a kind of simple gravitas.
I just wish I’d posed for one myself.