Great Californian Photographs from Box Cameras

Box Cameras

Thanks to modern technology, taking pictures is easier than ever. In fact, most people never stop to think about how simple it is to take a stellar photograph with just the click of a button on a smartphone. However, did you ever stop to think that some people might enjoy doing things the hard way? For example, we have cars, but some people still enjoy walking to their destinations. The same can be true with photography. For proof, you can speak to the Californian photographer John Chiara.

John Chiara enjoys constructing his own box cameras. These homemade cameras draw in light through a small hole. The light shines on photographic paper to create a photograph. Chiara's box cameras vary in size. His largest is about the size of a small elephant. He needs to use a small trailer to haul the box camera to his subjects. Operating the massive box camera can be cumbersome, and a single photograph can take up to half of a day.

Chiara's mission isn't to encapsulate images. Modern photographic equipment already does this exceptionally well. Rather, Chiara is interested in viewing the world through the art of an old photograph. For example, some painters prefer seeing the world through the abstract, and it's all about the feeling behind the painting. Chiara's box camera images could be classified in a similar vein.

The process of using box cameras gives the photographs strange errors. For example, many photographs contain flares, light leaks, and hallucinatory colors. Most traditional photographers would cringe to see these things in their photographs. However, for Chiara and his fans, these small flukes are part of the overall beauty found in the finished photograph.

If all of this sounds intriguing, you can check out Chiara's latest book. It's called John Chiara: California, and the book contains pictures from 18 years of dedicated work with box cameras. Due to the long exposure time, most of the images are of landscapes and architecture. However, the results are still stunning. You can find photographs of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, North Harbor Drive at Marina Way, and Rockaway Beach Avenue at San Mario Way. All of these images resonate with a peculiar kind of beauty.

Chiara's efforts demonstrate you don't need to embrace modern technology to take great photographs. In fact, returning to past methods can make incredible things.

What do you think about Chiara's photographs? Let us know below!