Some Assembly Required: Jonathan Checler

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

 Photo from a modified Polaroid ONE600

Photo from a modified Polaroid ONE600

Jonathan Checler, Brooklyn, NY

To help further his understanding of analog photography, self-taught photographer Jonathan Checler modified a Polaroid ONE600 by replacing the camera’s standard mirror with a shattered one. The idea was to examine and study how the internal mirror would alter the light projection onto the emulsion of the film if it were modified. By fragmenting the light, Checler discovered, the resulting image became a sort of kaleidoscopic deformation; and he was able to visualize how light translates into a tangible image.

The camera itself took only 20 minutes to modify, but the preparatory work to understand the inner-workings of Polaroid cameras, and what modifications would best help him to visualize light, took nearly a year. The photographs made with Checler’s Polaroid use the same properties as the original Polaroid ONE600. Checler removed the reflecting mirror through the top of the camera and replaced it with a mirror mosaic made from a 99-cent store hand mirror that he smashed with a hammer. He overlapped the broken pieces to create a mosaic and placed it where the original mirror had been.

The resulting photographs embrace Polaroid’s signature color distortion and are further distorted through fragmented light to create dreamy and soft one-of-a-kind prints. Unfortunately, the film used for this camera was discontinued shortly after Checler completed the camera in 2007, shortening the lifespan of this project. 

 Modified Polaroid ONE600 with mirror mosaic

Modified Polaroid ONE600 with mirror mosaic

View more of Checler’s work on his website.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at info@donttakepictures.com.