Photographer builds street camera that has been used in Afghanistan for 100 years


It prints black and white photos in minutes applying an ancient artistic principle of photography

Cameras have evolved considerably over the years, from the 16th century coin-sized camera obscure (Latin for darkroom) to the current miniature camera on smartphones. With the desire of mankind to capture images of reality in an instant, many models with different technologies have been developed. One of them is the street camera, or what is known as the Afghan box.

Popularly called in Afghanistan as kamra-e-faoree, which means “instant camera”, this 19th century photographic camera found mainly on the streets of Afghanistan, used primarily for portraiture and identification, is both a camera and a darkroom that produces black and white prints in minutes. As he faces extinction in Afghanistan due to the influx of digital cameras, lifestyle photographer Jovel Lorenzo had an interest in building one in the Philippines during the quarantine months from October to December. from last year.

Photographer Jovel Lorenzo and his street box camera.

After extensive research online, designing his own model, and researching affordable parts in the electronic marketplace, Jovel was able to assemble a 12 inch x 21 inch Afghan box. “I put a lot of effort into making the camera,” says Jovel, who has been a freelance photographer for 20 years now, in Filipino. “He also went through trial and error. But it’s a product of my love for photography. I’m glad I was able to build one that works perfectly. And it fills me up every time I see the footprints.

A positive result of the lockdown, the heavy handmade device brought out in it once again basic technique, advanced skills, as well as deep imagination and creativity in photography as an art form.

Since creating his street camera housing, Jovel has tried different ways to produce the best results. To familiarize himself with the equipment, he takes portraits of people interested in having black and white photographs outside his wife’s ceramic shop, Home Love Point, in Pasig City. He also came up with a project, dubbed the “Island Quarantine Series,” following his two-week quarantine when he visited his hometown of Tingloy Batangas in December. Portraits of its 14 chosen subjects represent island life and how the pandemic has affected them.

The black and white photos he took for the ‘Quarantine Island Series’ project.

Although using the camera involves a tedious method, Jovel made handling the tool so easy during our photoshoot. “It took a lot of practice to master the manual mechanism. But the real challenges here are: how you pose your subject, read available light, calculate aperture and speed, operate the camera, and compose the shot in your mind. And these are the things that make this art exceptional, ”he explains.

The classic camera is already a sight to see and it makes you feel excited once it’s in front of you. As a subject, led by a veteran of the lens, holding the pose is the only hard part you’ll do. But while you feel like a model, witnessing how Jovel works is definitely a treat. After releasing the shutter, the excitement builds even more. And when you get the black and white photography, it gives you the surprise of a priceless masterpiece.

One of Jovel’s subjects for the project ‘Artist Series’, well-known theater and film actor and his brother Jojit Lorenzo.

Currently, Jovel has an ongoing project, the “Artist Series”, where he aims to take portraits of people from various art forms such as theater actors, painters, sculptors and fellow photographers, among others. . Apart from that, he will be holding a private photoshoot using the street box camera every Wednesday throughout June at the Photo kitchen. As a photography enthusiast, he wants people to own a portrait of a craftsman and see how photo shoots were a hundred years ago

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