I used to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This huge city has a crazy nightlife and a young vibrant community of self-made, self-taught ‘anything’. In spite of the economical constraints and political clashes, people try hard to find not just profit, but also purpose.
Art as all art, photography provides a sense of relief, exploration and expression. It was in this context that I made my first attempt to purchase the MEIKAI EL. As there is no international retailer and importing goods from the rest of the world proves unattainable, I bought the good to a professor, merely to socialise and exchange views, attracted by the low price tag. The decisive encounter took place at an address unfamiliar to me and as usual, I had carefully investigated how to combine commute in order to avoid risky areas.
I knew that city like the back of my hand but little did I know, that at the address lied a small old-fashioned bar, the bar of the museum of photography. An unassuming one, full of old cameras, like a market fair. Each of them had a story. I was astonished, I have never seen such a collection. The professor who later on became my mentor, explained that he was part of an odd group of friends, all pinhole amateurs. I did not know what that meant. He showed me some images, then some home-made cans and weird artifacts. He was in his 70s, that has been and still is his passion. We talked a lot. I learnt more in that afternoon than in many books. He handed me the camera, did not want any money. He said, ‘this is not just a camera, it is how you let the world in’.
I took part of the photo reunions of his group ever since.
The photo reunions were in parks, full of moments for rest, observation, tips and delicious hand-made pastries. Negative images were scanned in the back of his fully light-proofed van. The wait, the warming up the papers and rolls, and liquids. The wait was a cure for anxiety.
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When I took these photos, a warm February day in the southern hemisphere, I was walking around ‘La Boca neighbourhood with the professor. I wanted to capture the river, the colours of the first migrant’s houses. I was carried away by the ever-present tango songs.
But as of the camera matters, I was not an expert, I could not advance the film properly, I did not know what the viewfinder would frame. I went home thinking that I had messed up my first colour film. I wanted to give it up altogether and resort to my hole-in-the-box-world.
Unaware, when scanning the negatives I saw I had made some accidental double exposures. I used them for an exhibition afterward. I kept trying and until this day I never let go.
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Nice to find this story here at emulsivo. The bar full of cameras you mention is Simik Museaum”. The collection of cameras found there is impressive.
This is a great first foray. It could be that you did not have the film loaded property. Regardless, the images turned out great and compelling…Louis.
The overlapping image with the asphalt and what looks like chalk markings is beautiful. Crop out the right side of the street and let the left side image becomes a beautiful square photo. Reminds me of an impressionist painting. I love it! Thanks for posting.