I shot film in the early 2000s, but transitioned to digital around 2005. I never learned to develop and process my own prints. This year (thanks to COVID lockdowns), I finally took up the challenge. I found a 1920s Voigtländer Avus at an estate sale and learned how to do negative prints on photographic paper.
I practiced using it on family members in the US.
The process is slow and chance that images will not turn out is very high. I usually take 5 shots and get one that turns out well.
The camera and the complex process to get an image from it mean that I tend to reserve it for special portraits. The first special occasion that I used it for was to photograph Dr. Fuller Robinson for his 92nd birthday. I loved the idea of making his portrait with a unique camera as old as (or older than) him.
This week another such special occasion arose and I had to break out the antique camera!
The NaYiri called me to the palace to take his photo from the upcoming Damba Festival. I first shot him quickly with my digital camera but then he was patient enough to sit for me to shoot him on the Avus 9×12. Watch the video below for the full “behind the scenes” story:
I’m thrilled that my 9x12cm photographic print of the NaYiri turned out so well.
I had the dream a few years back of learning this 100-year-old photographic craft and using it to capture images of Ŋmamprugu the way Dr. Rudolph Fisch did in 1910 when he captured the first images of the kingdom and its people. I knew that if Fisch did it 110 years ago, I could certainly find a way to do it today.
I’m so glad I gave it a try and can’t wait to make more unique images with it!