One shot, 200 photographers

Soon five vintage film cameras will be travelling around the globe, stopping in on a total of 200 photojournalists who will be tasked with taking a single snap before passing the kit on.

The Focused project is the brainchild of US photographer Chip Litherland, conceived as a way of making photographers stop and think about their shots in a way that has been lost to technological advance.

“In an age where digital photography, the Internet, and motor drives have accelerated the process of image-making, the thought, vision and construction of the decisive moment gets lost in the rush,” the organiser explains.

“Focused will bring a diverse group of photojournalists from across the world together one frame at a time towards a common goal: to rely more on our senses than technology.”

The list of photographers who will eventually be receiving the roving cameras runs the gamut from Pulitzer Prize winners to photography students, working in areas as diverse as the White House press pool to Afghani warzones.

As each 35mm roll of film is completed the images will go up on the Focused website accompanied by journal entries from the photographers responsible; Litherland plans to eventually turn the project into a travelling exhibition and book.

Before the cameras can take flight, however, the project is seeking to raise US$15,000 to cover total postage costs – if you would like to donate you can do so through the crowd-funding site IndieGoGo.

Shutterbugs Episode One

Shutterbugs is a new Australian web show about obsessive photography types in Melbourne’s creative quarter, Fitzroy. The first episode of the weekly series clocks in at an easily digestible three-and-a-half minutes, telling analogue photography fan Chloe’s tale of woe as her favorite film is discontinued.

Give it a whirl then let us know what you think on Facebook.

New lo-fi photography doco

A new documentary by a Malaysian filmmaker focusing on obsessive passion for analogue photography has just had its international debut.

The Negative Effect sees director Dick Chua follow a group of young film photography enthusiasts as they try to get together a DIY exhibition on Malaysia’s Penang Island in 2008.

The group of about 40 lo-fi photography acolytes traipse about the island, known for its heritage buildings and unique culture, shooting their analogue hearts out and trying to exhibit their works without any funding or support.

The exhibition that eventually emerged was titled Gia Gia Kua Kua, which means Walk Walk See See in Hokkien – you can see some of the images at Lomography’s community site.

Chau’s film was first screened in Malaysia back in 2009 but did not manage to see the light of day internationally until it screened for Singaporean audiences.

No word or further screenings abroad or a DVD release yet, but fingers crossed – in the meantime you can check out the trailer below.

Lomo does mail order

In its unending battle to convince the world the future is analogue Lomography has made film processing more convenient by offering a mail order service.

At this stage the mail-in option is only open to residents of the UK but it’s not hard to imagine the global-minded community eventually extending the postal service internationally.

Only a couple of months old, the LomoLab opened its East London doors in March offering on-site processing, scanning and printing of every 120mm or 35mm film type available.

The new mail service allows customers to order special Lomo mailers into which they deposit film to be sent to the lab for processing and have the completed photos returned with all the haste the British postal service can muster.

The company says all its lab operators are photography graduates with years of professional printing experience.

“Each set of prints will be treated with care and consideration and will be handled as though they belonged to the LabRats themselves!

“No rushed and uncared-for, one-hour processing here – no siree bob!”

While the company might talk a good anti-digital game, Lomography is actually rather plugged in – ahead of the postie, all mail-in images are also made available to download for 60 days after processing.

The digital photos can also be transferred to a user’s online LomoHome account and shared with the online analogue community.

Leica posts big sales bump

It has been a good fiscal year for Leica, with the company reporting an increase in sales of over 50 percent for 2010/2011.

From April 1 2010 to March 31 2011 Leica Camera AG saw a 57.3 percent increase in sales compared to the previous year, going from €158.2 million to €248.9 million.

The company’s pre-tax earnings improved six-fold on the previous year from €7.4 million to €42.4 million and net income went from €3.2 million to €30.4 million.

Leica attributes the success to ongoing popularity of products from the Leica M system, professional S series and the company’s casual compact range.

The record sales figures mean that the manufacturer will be paying a €0.3 dividend per share to stockholders, a payout totaling €5.0 million and the first time Leica has been able to pay a dividend since 1997.

It is certainly a reversal of fortunes for a company that suffered heavily for its stubborn support of film photography as the rest of the industry raced into the digital era.

Decaying in style

Many people decry the sate of camera manufacturing these days, complaining quality components have gone out the window and things just aren’t built to last.

This is a concept that designer Remy Labesque has embraced, examinging the way in which certain devices can be ‘aged to perfection’ whereas others just start to look bad.

On the Object Oriented blog Labesque breaks down the aesthetic crumbling of two devices not long for this world – a broken iPhone and old Canon compact film camera.

When it comes down to inner workings he gives the analogue Canon its dues, after seven years it’s still working fine, the only reason it is being dumped is because it’s not digital.

The iPhone on the other hand is only three years old and is getting the boot because its touch screen no longer works – the curmudgeonly quality argument seems to have scored a point.

However, when Labesque turns a visual design eye to the well-worn devices the new phone tops the old camera in terms of wearing in over time.

“After 3+ years of having been carried in the same pocket as a ring of keys, the iPhone has acquired a polished patina over its aluminum shell,” he says.

“Abrasion of its hard-anodized surface has revealed the raw aluminum within.”

The Canon’s battle damage, though, simply serves to reflect the cheap black plastic construction hidden behind a silver façade.

“The camera’s emulated metallic finish is only surface-deep and its wear tends to emphasizes awkward artifacts of the injection molding process used to create it.

“At this point the Canon camera’s shell looks like garbage while the iPhone’s is starting to resemble something more like an heirloom pocket watch.”

The designer cites the Japanese concept Wabi-sabi, the aesthetically pleasing wear of an object as it decays over time, as he suggests cameras and other devices should have a greater emphasis on ‘aging with dignity’.


New photojournalism film trailer

A new trailer for an independent film dramatising a group of photojournalists’ work in South Africa during the Apartheid period has hit the net.

Due to be released next month, The Bang Bang Club follows four young combat photographers who banded together to document the brutal violence and oppression surrounding the first free elections post-Apartheid in 1994.

Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva comprised the eponymous club and the film is based on a book of the same name written by the later two.

Written and directed by documentary filmmaker Steven Silver the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach.

You can view the iTunes-exclusive trailer here; the film is due to open in the US on April 22.

It looks like the film will tackle some of the heavier ethical dilemmas involved in photojournalism (the kind that contributed to Carter’s suicide in 1994), hopefully the feature does the weighty material justice.


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