My good friend Billy Baque, a photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been talking about wanting to build an Afghan Box Camera for a while now.  He first saw this camera in a magazine article in the 1990’s and a couple of years ago, he wrote a blog article about the Cuban Polaroid.  After it was published he was contact by Lukas Birk, who was putting together  a website for The Afghan Box Camera Project.  The website now has a plethora of information regarding the use of these cameras in Afghanistan and how to build/use one.  Billy’s been blogging about these cameras for quite some time; definitely worth the read.

Afghan Camera Obscura
Afghan Camera Obscura – This is a traditional portrait photographer’s camera; one of the first cameras to make a photograph “in an instant”.

Now Billy, is a photographer who appreciates quality and a fine level of craftsmanship in the cameras he uses. Seeing the basic layout design on the afghan box camera website, he knew that he eventually needed to find someone to help him with this project. He started his search and actively contacted master woodsmiths in the Bay Area trying to find the right person. After about a month of searching, he extended his search into Oregon and found someone to help, Kurt Mottweiler, a custom camera maker in Portland. Kurt is now working on designing & building a contemporary version of this camera for Billy that will use current photo paper.

This is speculation, but I would imagine that there would be a working prototype within the year. There is also talk about possibly selling the cameras and/or the plans to build one if there is enough buzz.

All in all, it’s a really neat project and I’m excited for all parties involved. The only place you really see these types of cameras nowadays are in 3rd world countries. The fact that they are helping to bring this relic back to the modern age is really something special. I smile at the fact, that soon enough, my good friend Billy will be shooting this classic camera on the streets of San Francisco; a place which probably hasn’t seen the likes of one in probably almost a century.


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