Today on Cool Stuff in the Mail: Camera Crazy by Christopher D. Salyers and Buzz Poole is an encyclopedic celebration of toy cameras. As Salyers writes, “The most important aspect of the toy camera is the unexpected fun you can have with it.” The book has pages and pages of colorful toy cams cataloged by type (“Novelty Cameras” includes a KFC Chicken Camera and a Nickelodeon Photo Blaster) or cultural movement (Lomography & the Analog Movement, Japanese Camera Culture). There are even some philosophical tidbits on aesthetics and photography. I’ll leave you with one:
It is easy, and fair, to be critical of how the proliferation of photography has forever changed our relationship with the image and how the image informs perspectives of reality. … Toy cameras and the images they produce unapologetically call attention to the schism between object and image, letting us forget about mimetic principles and shutter speeds to enjoy the simple act of creation, triggered by an individual who wants to add something new to the world.
GHOST GARDENS of DETROIT
My New Book: Camera Crazy
I have just returned from a lengthy road trip and have brought with me wonderful news, my newest book is out: Camera Crazy! I use the pronoun “my” loosely considering that I did not author the book, but the photography for the most part is mine. Camera Crazy documents an array of novelty and toy cameras and the history behind them. Ultimately, it’s a collection of photos of some really funky looking cameras. Cameras in the shape of Micky Mouse, or Charlie Tuna, or even a donut. Not only did I photograph hundreds of these cameras I also had the opportunity to shoot with them! For the most part these cameras shoot film, some shot formats that were tricky to get ahold of and have developed, but after a bit of trial and error and a few expired rolls I was able to get some pretty interesting shots. Many of these will be in the book but some are only available on my website. I’ve included a few examples below side by side with the cameras that shot them. Follow the links below to view my image galleries, read blurbs about the book, or to check out a couple of events we (myself, the authors, and the publisher) will be having this fall to promote Camera Crazy. Enjoy the pictures, buy the book, and come visit me at one of our events!
Portfolio Page: http://www.jkputnamphotography.com/portfolio/camera-crazy/
About Camera Crazy via Lomography.com: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/news/2014/09/22/new-book-documents-toy-and-novelty-cameras-through-the-years
About Camera Crazy via The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/sep/16/novelty-toy-cameras-crazy-snoopy-he-man-indiana-jones
Come to our New York Public Library event: http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2014/11/19/camera-crazy-buzz-poole-christopher-salyer-arezoo-moseni-and-special
Mingle with me and the authors at the book launch party at the Lomography Gallery Store: https://www.facebook.com/events/372703356212352/?notif_t=plan_user_invited
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Bruce Peninsula National Park is a small but significant park in Ontario, Canada perched on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula itself. The “Bruce”, as it’s known, divides Lake Huron from the Georgian Bay and is the perfect size for a couple nights of backpacking with big payoffs in the form of expansive views out over the lake and rugged, rocky shores fit for exploring. The bay’s water along the shore of the park is a rainbow of perfectly clear tropical tones which beg to be swam in. The shore is lined with geometric slabs, cobbled stones, and jagged boulders of dolomite limestone. The rock in the area is ancient, pre-dating the dinosaurs by a mere 50 million years or so. The park sits midway on the Niagara Escarpment which runs south past the world famous Niagara Falls. The same forces that shaped the massive falls on the U.S./Canada border are responsible for the dramatic cliffs, overhangs, and geologic features of the Bruce shoreline. Bruce Peninsula is a World Biosphere Reserve and is home to many unique species of plants and a collection of centuries-old Eastern White Cedars, the oldest living tree being around 850 years of age (the oldest discovered tree in the area, a cedar that died 1500 years ago, was almost 2000 years old).
Time has been on the side of this magnificent place, it was given the chance to form and grow. It’s a shame I could only spend a couple of nights there, it deserves much more than that.
Ghost Gardens of Detroit
We all know about Detroit; the ruins, the fires, the collapse… but there is a phrase that stuck out to me amongst all that I have heard: Ghost Gardens. The phrase was coined by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Charlie LeDuff while showing Anthony Bourdain around Detroit on his show, Parts Unknown (you can watch the segment here if you so desire). The idea of Ghost Gardens was intriguing to me; abandoned homes, left to rot, and their flower beds left unattended. A resurgence each spring, a spec of beauty and color poking out through ruin.
I wanted to see it for myself, not the ruin of this great city necessarily, but the flower beds, the growth. I didn’t find it, I looked but it wasn’t there. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. I certainly didn’t explore a wide swath of the city, but the ghost gardens were gone. Grown over and pushed out by weeds and wildflowers. There were signs of the old gardens here and there, but nothing recognizable. Occasionally, settled amidst ruins on an empty block, would be a tended garden; mowed and weeded. But there was little sign that much had returned or would again in the coming years. Despite all of this I found beauty and interest in the wild growing fields and deserted lots filled with wildflowers. The twitter of songbirds sprang from tall grass, as did the occasional rabbit. It felt like the beginning of a return to something much older than the city itself. If I traipsed far enough into the weeds, closed one eye, and leaned to one side I could block out the telephone poles behind a tree. I could crouch just enough so that the potholed road became hidden by the tall grass. I could wait for the bleeding sound of a distant siren to dissipate and let the silence of the place fill the air. The gardens were gone and the apparition of something much more significant had taken over.
LIRR, Series of Five, Queens. Shot with Chocolate Donut Digital Camera.
Native American Prop, Chinatown, NY. Shot with Necono Cat Digital Camera.
Lisa, Brooklyn. Shot with Superheadz Slim Angel, LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 35mm Film.
Lisa, Brooklyn. Shot with Bugs Bunny Camera, Kodak 126 Film.
Umbrellas, Manhattan. Photo taken with Lomo Split-Cam, 35mm film.
Tree with Death Shadow, New Jersey. Photo taken with Superheadz Slim Angel, LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 35mm film.
California Coast, Santa Cruz. Photo taken with Ansco 50, Expired 110 Film.
Playboys, Manhattan. Shot with Micky-Matic, Lomo 110 Film.
Woman with Umbrella, Central Park. Shot with Fun Face Camera, Kodak 126 Film.