I wonder how many of us have an old box brownie lurking in a cupboard somewhere, just sitting there quietly gathering dust. Developed at the turn of the last century they introduced us to the ‘snapshot’. Fast forward 120 years and we are still in love with the ‘snapshot’, albeit with the aid of a microchip now, rather than with film emulsion.
To capture a moment in time to be preserved and shared is, I would argue, something that is fundamental to us being human. Old paintings give us an insight into a past we haven’t experienced, whilst family photographs awaken our own memories, reminding us of people and places that may otherwise be forgotten.
I was gifted this particular box brownie a few weeks ago. The viewfinder is very opaque, years of dust obscure all but the brightest areas of the composition. By modern standards the resulting images are far from sharp, but they have a beautiful aesthetic of a bygone age about them.
The more I work with film, the more I love the process. No filters, no digital editing … just light and a light sensitive emulsion are all that’s needed. It was suggested to me that cameras may hold the memories they have seen in their lens; there will be those that argue that this is simply not possible, but I think it’s a lovely thought, and I for one am more than happy to believe that this may well be the case.
This particular little Brownie has a portrait mode, and now that I know it’s light tight, I will experiment with some portraits next time 💛.
Tech: Kodak Six-20 Brownie Junior (Portrait Model) / Respooled 620 Ilford HP5+ / metered with Lux App (f16, 1/40) / late afternoon bright sun / scanned negatives / only a slight Levels adjustment in post.