Tell us about yourself first! What made you get into photography?
My first real job was with an aerial photography company in Australia in the 1980s. I was already shooting 35mm film, but my photography education didn’t really start until my boss, an English bloke called Tony, and my co-worker, Ian, introduced me to the world of medium and large format photography. Unfortunately, for most of the 90s I took very few photos - I don’t really know why - which is a shame because lived in Japan and Hong Kong. I started again with the advent of digital photography, but I didn’t do anything again with film until last year.
What is your preferred photography style and subjects to shoot?
I’m not much of a people person, so I prefer landscapes and the natural world. However, I discovered street photography after I went back to school and did a journalism degree. I also want to develop my portraiture technique, which is why I’m teaming up with a local photographer soon so she can try the Goodman Zone and I can learn some tips from her.
How did you get into building cameras?
The former manager of my local bookstore and coffee shop, who just happens to be an award-winning film photographer, told me about Dora’s cameras. I wanted to build them right away.
Which model did you choose and why?
I started out with the Goodman One, but in Canada, where I’ve been living since 2010, being so close to the US means that metric hardware is more difficult to source than I ever imagined. When Aaron Tan revealed his version of the Goodman One, I asked him if I could download his files because it used less in the way of screws, rods and inserts. Thankfully, he said yes and that’s how I got started.
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?
Not in the beginning, but I soon wanted to see if I could come up with an adapter to match Aaron’s Goodman Zone with the the Fujifilm Instax SQ6. It took a lot of work to make my 3D-printed shell mate with the rear shell of the Instax and I’m still tweaking it now. I’m a little obsessive that way.
What was the most challenging part of building your own camera?
I’m a journalist, not a designer, so until 2017, I hadn’t touched any kind of 3D-modeling software. It was a steep learning curve. Even after making the switch to Fusion 360, I still had to work hard at the stuff that experienced CAD people find easy. I knew what I wanted but it took a while to achieve it. Thankfully, I’m much better now than I was just 5 months ago. Aside from that, the bellows on the AXIS was not easy, but I’m glad I did it. It’s the first time I’ve tackled that type of thing and it’s not bad for a second try (the first one failed).
How would you compare this journey to buying a ready made camera?
The best part of building a camera is that is teaches you things that you take for granted in a ready-made camera. It also turned me into a camera historian of sorts, which is something I didn’t expect. I spent a lot of time looking at vintage cameras and appreciating for the first time the beauty, elegance and engineering genius of those early cameras.
Show us some photos what you have made with your new camera!
Do you have any advice for first time camera builders?
Reach out to the community when you get stumped. I’m a firm believer in the idea that there are no stupid questions. That said, make sure you do your research first, and give it a decent try before calling for help.
Do you have any previous projects that you could share with us?
I haven’t built cameras before this, so probably not. I have, however, discovered that I like to design lights, which is a direct result of my experience with modifying my Goodman cameras.