Meet John!

Tell us about yourself first! What made you get into photography?

I went to college as a cinema major. It was a bad time for cinema. Video was overtaking most corporate productions, and video was a distinctly different and inferior media. Thankfully, Cinema 101 was a still photography course using Graflex 4x5 cameras. The course emphasized darkroom. I lost interest in making moving pictures. You might say my cinema ambitions ended on a still frame.

I changed major, changed schools, and bought a Nikon FM. My dad built me a darkroom. After a year or so in the darkroom, I came out for air. I changed schools and majors again. Soon after that, I traded all my photo gear for a diamond, and started another adventure. 

For years I was never far from a camera, but eventually I became a software engineer. In recent years, my interest in photography has resumed. I’m especially interested in alternative photographic processes. 

What is your preferred photography style and subjects to shoot?

I like to experiment. When I look back at my work, what I never see is perfection. What I see is an attempt to try something I’ve not done before.

How did you get into building cameras?

In 2017, when the solar eclipse was approaching, I became obsessed with how to photograph the event. At the time I remember seeing an Emmet Gowan exhibit. He had a few shots from 8x10 negatives on which he had used wide angle 4x5 lenses displaying the full circle of the image. 

I decided to shoot the eclipse using my Rodenstock 75mm f/6.3 lens on TMY 8x10.

I had difficulty finding a camera to accommodate my plan, so I decided to build one out of Honduran rosewood.

My camera design was overly complex and poorly executed. My bag bellows leaked light, and it rained all morning before the eclipse. I managed to get a couple shots, but seeing them no one would recognize them as the eclipse.

How did you find Dora Goodman, and what made you decide to take the leap? 

My son sent me a link to petapixel and the Goodman One. At the time, if I wanted to shoot 120, I would use a roll film adapter in my 4x5. 

Eventually, I wanted to shoot 120 more easily. I debated about getting into a decent system or shooting a toy camera like the Diana or Holga. I realized that with a 3D printer, I could do better than a toy without spending as much as I would on a used system.

Which model did you choose and why?

Ultimately, I decided that the Goodman Zone was the perfect combination between quality and simplicity. With a Mamiya Press lens and an RB67 back, I can achieve high quality, Nevertheless, with the external viewfinder and zone focus, it shoots as easily as a toy.

Did you made any change in the camera files? If yes, what and how? If not, is there anything that you would be happy to change?

I have not made changes.

I plan to make some accessories like a behind the lens filter holder for when I shoot infrared. As a software engineer, I ponder integrating an Arduino based light meter.

What was the most challenging part of building your own camera?

The builds went easily for me. I think patience might have been my biggest challenge. I had a bit of experience with Cura previously, so that helped.

How would you compare this journey to buying a ready made camera?

Dora Goodman cameras are egalitarian. Over the years, I have photographed with professional cameras in formats from 35mm to 8x10. In professional photography, equipment price is a barrier to entry. That added cost does not necessarily translate to a better photo. Dora Goodman cameras emphasize accessibility and creativity and the photo becomes what you can make of it.

Show us some photos what you have made with your new camera!

Do you have any advice for first time camera builders?

Read everything related to the designs.

#doragoodmancameras #goodmanaxis #goodmanone #goodmanzone #buildyourowncamera #diy

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