Aesthetic qualities of photographs are limited by the manufacturers of the equipment used to capture and process the image. By building my own equipment and making my own materials, I strip the process of complexity and regain total control.

Using a cardboard packing crate, an inexpensive magnifying glass and some duct tape, I create a simple and limited camera. This camera has no aperture controls resulting in a very shallow depth of field. The subject remains in focus at 10 inches from the lens.

Essentially, this is the camera as it existed in 1550 when Girolamo Cardona first added a lens to the camera obscura. This Is Vermeer’s camera and Canaletto’s camera. This is the camera before photography.

Aesthetic conventions developed as photography evolved that required the use of expensive and complicated lenses. These lenses modify and correct spherical and chromatic aberration. In my years of demonstrating the camera obscura in classrooms around the country, I have recognized that there is something being lost in this refinement. It is the magic and the mystery of the simple uncorrected and ethereal images captured with the camera obscura that fires my imagination.

Rather than positive images made from negatives, these are original and unique gelatin silver negative images captured on 30 X 30 inch fiber based paper.

THOMAS MEZZANOTTE