Afghan Photographer Uses a Rare 100 Year Old “All-in-One” Camera to Shoot Pictures

Afghan Photographer Has 100-Year-Old Box Camera

Photographer Haji Meerzaman uses his antique camera to capture an image of Drew Binsky. (Photo: screenshot from Drew Binsky's vlog)

Photography has a long history. Today, most people shoot with their smartphone or DSLR cameras with high megapixel counts. Historical cameras, however, can still be found in the hands of those who have nurtured the traditions of film photography. Travel vlogger Drew Binsky was in Kabul, Afghanistan, when he heard tell of a unique antique camera that was still in use. He met with Haji Meerzaman, the photographer, for a portrait sitting and vlog with this “all-in-one” box camera made over 100 years ago.

In the fascinating vlog, Meerzaman says he purchased the antique camera about 65 years prior and has been using it to earn a living ever since. He tells Binsky that he was fascinated by the process and that his camera is likely the last of its kind left in Afghanistan.

Meerzaman explains to Binsky how the antique camera functions. Through an interpreter, he reveals that the contraption functions as both a camera and darkroom. Like with the large format cameras of the 19th century, the photographer focuses the image then loads the film or light-sensitive paper inside the camera. To prevent any light from getting in, Meerzaman reaches through a long sleeve into the body of the camera to prepare the exposure. Once the camera captures the image, the same long sleeve keeps light out as the photographer removes the exposure.

The image is then developed inside the camera itself, safe from light. Today, most photographers who still shoot film will use a changing bag to remove the exposed material and place it in a light-tight tank for chemical processing. This antique camera combines this process with the exposure itself for a fascinating “all-in-one” experience. The end result is a complete negative image ready that's for printing.

This fascinating antique “all-in-one” box camera is 100 years old and still in use.

h/t: [PetaPixel]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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