Tired of the talk of megapixels, mirrorless systems, and light field cameras? Sure, the future is exciting, but the basics for making great photos have been around for a long time. This week’s book round-up shows off two books that celebrate cameras that already exist.
The first book on our list is Few are Chosen. Photographer Dan Wagner spent three years with the legendary Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera, shooting black and white portraits in New York and other East Coast cities. He chose the camera because it was the camera of choice for Richard Avedon.
“Shooting with a Rolleiflex is different from shooting with a 35mm camera. You cradle the camera in both hands, bending your head forward to look down at the image, when the moment is right, you trip the shutter. This can make you look downright comical to bystanders.”
As the saying goes, it’s not about the camera it’s about the photographer, and Wagner has an expert sense of composition and the technical skills to match. He also develops his own negatives and prints his own photographs.
While Wagner was content to use one camera for three years, self-described photography hobbyist Tony Kemplen took to using a different film camera every week for a single year. His experiment, appropriately titled 52 Cameras in 52 Weeks – Year 2 (yes, there’s a volume for Year 1 as well), is a journey through camera history (as well as Kemplen’s home of Sheffield, England). And, like Wagner, Kemplen developed his images himself. Each page brings the joy of a new discovery, from a classic Voigtlander Perkeo to Action Man, a 110 camera “concealed” in the body of a plastic action figure.
Beyond the joys of seeing long forgotten cameras like the Minolta Disc (I had one when I was eleven years old), his book is a reminder that we’re always in a state of camera advances – some are truly revolutionary (like the twin lens reflex) while others are the result of an industry constantly seeking to get us to buy new stuff in the guise of innovation.