Some Assembly Required: Timothy Pearse

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

A Blue Flower One , from Timothy Pearse's homemade 20x24 view camera.

A Blue Flower One, from Timothy Pearse's homemade 20x24 view camera.

Timothy Pearse, Devon, UK

Dissatisfied with the limited options available for digital image making, Timothy Pearse took matters into his own hands (literately).  For his final project at Plymouth College of Art (Devon, UK), Pearse constructed a large format camera, capable of producing 30x30 images, affectionately named Molly. “To me, all methods of image making are equally as valid as one another. It all comes down to creative choice as to which method best suits your style or way of working. I just fear that in the future of photography, creative choice will have been eroded to such a degree by technological ubiquity, that the only choice that will remain will be the choice between camera manufacturers.” Constructing his camera from scratch provided Pearse will the creative choices he had been looking for. Additionally, he learned many new craftsmans skills in the process, including metal work and glass making over a five-month period.

Timothy and "Molly"

Timothy and "Molly"

Pearse believes that his camera is the largest in the UK with a working heigh of six feet and a maximum bellows extension of eight feet. The camera folds down to fourteen inches deep when stored or transported. Aside from the eight-foot long bellows and the lenses, “Molly” was constructed entirely by Pearse from a mixture of Iroko and Mahogany hardwood. Pearse photographs 20x24 film negatives as well as wet plate collodion ambrotypes, though the camera is able to produce images up to 30x30 once Pearse constructs a back capable of producing this size.

While he does not expect everyone to take on a project of this scale, Pearse hopes that the renaissance of traditional analogue and alternative process photography will encourage others to try hand-crafting cameras and experience photography in a new (old) way. 

View more of Pearse’s work on his website.

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