By Mark McConville
THIS OLD caravan has been given a new lease of life after being transformed into a huge working camera by a British photographer.
Incredible images show the dilapidated van before, during and after its stunning renovation as it was converted into an attractive camera with fresh paintwork.
Other stunning shots show the enormous camera in action, peek inside at the dark room and show the final results with some amazing portraits.
The Caravan Camera is the work of photographer and lecturer Brendan Barry (36), from Exeter, UK.
“It’s a long story how the idea initially came about, an important element of which is the time I spent in a make shift studio and darkroom I build in an old cabbage store room in the basement of a castle in Latvia,” he said.
“Basically, the caravan combines three of the things that I love the most; building things, engaging and exciting people in photographic processes, and taking pictures.
“About a year and a half ago I started making cameras out of random things; a pineapple, Lego, a log, a lamp, an alcove in a wall, among others, and I noticed that people were more interested in the cameras I was making than any photograph I had ever taken.
“So, I started thinking how I could combine making camera and images, and capturing the imagination of audiences, into a more participatory, and maybe even performance based, photographic practice.”
Brendan worked on a few prototypes before he created the Caravan Camera including a 16×20” camera and then a shed camera.
The creative photographer explained how his Caravan Camera works and the effect it had on his subjects.
“The camera has a very shallow depth of field and the materials I use at the moment are very slow (ISO of 3) resulting in long shutter speeds, and it takes me a few minutes to set up, so if taking a portrait, the subject has to stand very still, for quite some time,” he added.
“The result is that they tend to zone out a fair bit, and as they can’t see me (I’m inside the camera) some of the self-consciousness people sometimes feel when posing for a photograph disappears.
“All this means, when successful, that you can get a kind of relaxed/unforced feel to the image and you tend to see past the front or awkwardness that people, often unconsciously, present to the camera.
“But for me, at present, it is not so much about the images themselves, than the experience of the people who they are of.
“There are plenty of things I can improve in the image making and printing process (which I am working on) but at the moment I am more interested in how people engage, learn, enjoy and become a part of the process.
“I do have plans to work on some more personal project with the camera. One of the lenses I use has a 68” image circle, which would allow me to create some rather large prints, so I would like to take it on the road and push it to its limits.”
Brendan also outlined why he made this huge camera and the positives of working with analogue over digital.
“We tend to think that working digitally is more instant, more accessible and gives us more opportunity to ‘share’ our lives and experiences, but the depth of these experiences when working this way can, at times, be a little shallow,” he said.
“That’s not to say I have anything against digital photography at all. I have a digital camera and a camera phone and I use social media as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to slow things down a little as this can allow for the richer, deeper and more tangible experience, and it’s great to actually produce something physical.
“I teach analogue thinking a lot when I talk to my students about shooting digital; make the decisions before you take your photo then move on to the next shot, rather than spending half your time looking at the LCD screen deciding on whether it should be darker or lighter.
“When you do this, the world goes on around you and you’ll miss it all if you’re not careful.”