Ann Arbor — January 11, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Crappy Camera Club Creates Cool Compositions


It’s all around you: digital images. They’re on the web. They’re in your magazines. They’re in your movies, killin ur d00dz.

But one place they absolutely are not is in the photos produced by the awesome folks who make up the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club (A3C3).

This past weekend, my lovely photog wife and I ventured over to the Ann Arbor Recycling Center to visit with the Crappy Camera Club cadre and have a look at some of their best photos at a show they called “Cheap Shots II – Recycled and Reloaded”.

“Cheap Shots II – Recycled and Reloaded” show announcement

Here’s how they describe the event:

A new, green-friendly photographic exhibit will feature work by local photographers at the Re-Art Gallery, located at the Recycle/Reuse Center, 2420 South Industrial Hwy., Ann Arbor.

Cheapshots II (even the name is recycled) will feature the work of members of the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club (A3C3), as they show what one can do with film cameras that are hand-me-downs, thrift shop gems, plastic wonders from Recycle Ann Arbor, and metal-bodied misfits saved from the jaws of oblivion.

It’s no secret that A3C3 members have long been using film cameras while being surrounded by howling digital winds. Their mission, to keep silver-based photography alive, has become a calm island of creative anachronism, as they strive to produce meaningful imagery using what many people consider to be camera cast-offs.

Their tools represent reclaimed photographic gadgetry, and their images, housed in reclaimed frames and glass, will be viewable at the Re-Art Gallery, from January 4-31, 2010.

The cameras used range from little things that are the size of a pack of cigarettes all the way up to some larger, boxier models that require a tripod. Most of them have been patched up, some of them an amalgam of several cameras, parts cadged from one or more to restore another to life.

Ironically, more than one of the members has a day job in the digital realm building websites, taking digital photos, etc. Yet these shuttergbugs clearly embrace the constraints and challenges posed by using crappy cameras to create wonderful photographic compositions. Denied the ability to adjust colors and hues and saturation in Photoshop and other digital imaging software, their photos rely on a blend of smart composition and clever photographic techniques with a dash of luck and serendipity thrown in. One photographer, for example, got her best results by combining her crappy camera with film that was expired for juuu-uuust the right amount of time.

Some of the finer examples of their efforts were on display at the Recycling Center on Sunday.

“Child of the Corn” by Roy Schmidt – Click the image for more of Roy’s work

The show was set up like most photographic exhibits you’ve seen. Photos mounted in mattes and frames displayed on plain white walls. Small informational tags accompanied each photo along with information about each artist and the equipment and technique he or she used to compose the images. But even in creating the display the crappy camera photographers were inventive. The frames were either recycled or made from “Urban Wood“, wood sawn locally from trees felled around the Ann Arbor area.

Cheap Shots II – Recycled and Reloaded [photo by Mark O’Brien]

Here’s a bit more about the Crappy Camera Club:

The Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club is a democratically based group of photographers who share some common interests. They are all using silver halide photography to make images. This means using film to express their various views of the world. The crappy camera moniker refers to cameras that to others may seem outmoded or obsolete. Devices such as old box cameras, toy cameras, Polaroid cameras, pinhole and zone plate cameras are a few examples.

Many are into alternative processes such as cross-processing film, various printing methods like lith printing, salt printing and others which can be discovered and rediscovered. Some really enjoy using outdated film and paper just to see what whacked images they can get out of them. It’s always a surprise. These people get a thrill out of this kind of thing. The group is open to creating new images with simple equipment and methods but the key is having good times.

All in all an amazingly cool show by some amazingly cool photographers. In the spirit of the event, my wife, Anne C. Savage, took along her “Pop Cam” camera, a truly crappy camera, to take some shots (click on the images to open them bigger in a new window):

Photo by Anne C. Savage

Photo by Anne C. Savage

And here are some of the crappy camera photographers themselves in a photo taken with my iPhone. I’m pretty sure that’s ironic but I’m still trying to figure how.

The Crappy Camera Club!

Check out the Crappy Camera Club’s members page HERE. Perusing their photography pages is time very, very well-spent.

I’m just sayin’…