The Nikonos Challenge shares basic cameras and beautiful photographs
Brandon Jennings has a deep affection for Nikonos, the famend movie digital camera collection born from Jacques Cousteau’s well-known Calypso underwater digital camera. The Nikonos Challenge is the vessel by way of which Jennings shares his ardour with the world. It is a easy concept: He owns lots of of underwater cameras, and anybody can borrow one, freed from cost. You simply should share the photographs you’re taking.
The delivery of The Nikonos Challenge was virtually an accident. Jennings’ proximity to the ocean — he lives in San Clemente, California — meant his curiosity in images quickly led him to the water. After shopping for numerous digital choices, he determined to check out a Nikonos, and so started an excessive love affair. “To me, it is the most effective and actually solely choice for 35mm within the water,” he says. Jennings is not alone on this opinion; there is a large-held romanticism for Nikonos cameras. They have been in manufacturing for 4 many years, permitting anybody to simply photograph underwater topics lengthy earlier than you might decide up a $200 underwater level-and-shoot or a GoPro.
The very fact stays that this stuff do exist now, although, as do underwater housings for top-finish DSLRs. Jennings’ reply to “Why Nikonos?” when extra trendy choices exist is probably predictable — it is an opinion you will hear from a subset of photographers time and time once more. “Every time I speak to individuals concerning the venture, I virtually romanticize [film],” he says. “A picture captured on movie is artwork; it is natural; there’s something there. … Digital is nice. Digital has made everybody a photographer, which is fantastic. However to me it is simply not the identical.” Apart from, though yow will discover housings for SLRs and DSLRs alike, Jennings says they’re “such a problem — the Nikonos is fast and straightforward.”
Jennings does not appear to acknowledge that there is something uncommon about this endeavor.
After falling for movie, Jennings bought “a mountain” of digital gear he not wanted, purchased a lot of Nikonos, and requested associates on Instagram in the event that they needed to start out capturing with them. He does not appear to acknowledge that there is something uncommon about this endeavor. Numerous individuals love movie cameras, however none have had the urge to spend lots of or hundreds of dollars on a set and begin handing them out to individuals around the globe.
The response to his concept was big. “Fifty individuals needed to shoot eight cameras,” he says. After delivery out the primary eight Nikonos, he instantly began scouring eBay for extra. Whereas the undertaking was initially funded solely by Jennings promoting off undesirable digital gear, it now depends on digital camera donations and print gross sales (a choose few photographs from the undertaking can be found to buy at very affordable charges) to remain afloat.
The ready record for cameras now stands at roughly 2,500.
There are not any charges, and only a few strings hooked up to becoming a member of the venture. Photographers are merely requested to pay to ship their Nikonos alongside to the subsequent in line as soon as they’re executed and, in fact, to share their pictures with the world. After Jennings sends a digital camera out, it is unlikely to return again to him for a very long time, until there are any technical points. This makes the venture virtually self-sustaining: The one prices are sending out cameras within the first place, maintenance and, when the price range permits it, shopping for much more Nikonos.
The Nikonos Venture is altruistic at its coronary heart, and so its speedy progress must be no shock. It is solely been a few years since Jennings first put the wheels in movement, and he is already amassed over 250 cameras. Over 100 photographs pour in each month, and that ready record now stands at roughly 2,500.
As you’ll be able to see from the pictures peppering this text, individuals are performing some fairly incredible issues with these cameras. You’ll be able to attempt to get Jennings to decide on favorites, however he refuses to be particular. That should not be such a shock; his constructive nature must be obvious from the challenge itself, and selecting one photograph could possibly be seen as negatively judging the others.
Because of Jennings, there are a whole lot of Nikonos in photographers’ arms all all over the world, and there are a number of methods of maintaining with the pictures that they are taking. The official website has a neatly organized contributors web page, a weblog, the aforementioned print store and a spot the place you’ll be able to request a spot on the ready listing. Maybe the easiest way to maintain tabs on the undertaking is thru its Instagram account. Round 5 pictures every week get posted there, and Jennings additionally sometimes shares information and questions — like this picture, which served as interview prep for the article you are studying.
There’s an apparent irony that Instagram, a platform obsessive about nostalgia, overrun by filters and pretend Polaroid overlays, performs an element on this. The challenge celebrates analog, nevertheless it happened and continues to develop because of trendy applied sciences. As extra individuals get into artistic images by way of issues like Instagram, so too the pool of potential contributors to the challenge will develop. You possibly can choose analog over digital, positive, however there is a symbiosis between the 2 now. When was the final time you found one thing with out the assistance of know-how?
The challenge celebrates analog, however succeeds because of trendy applied sciences.
Regardless of the apparent parallels with the success of Instagram, it is a wrestle to outline what the Nikonos Undertaking is. It is half inventive endeavor, half charity. It is a unfastened actual-life social community, facilitated by the web. It is virtually aimless, however has yielded incredible outcomes and constructed a robust and rising group. So what’s Jennings’ endgame? There is not one. “I imply, clearly I want that we had extra cameras within the arsenal so extra individuals could possibly be capturing with them, however I am not planning on getting wealthy off this venture,” he says. There are some concepts for the longer term, although: Jennings has plans to get “a couple of exhibits going,” and needs to facilitate individuals “nerding out collectively as Nikonos shooters” by means of actual-world meetups. He is additionally engaged on a ebook (“or a number of books”) highlighting every participant’s work.
Principally, he is simply stoked on the response to the undertaking, and what it is meant for his life. “I’ve met some superior individuals, and I am sure there are extra superb individuals to satisfy,” he says. “All the things does not need to have a vacation spot in thoughts, proper?”
[Image credits: Tom Squires (lead image); Bryan Timm (black-and-white silhouette of surfer); Josh Anderson (surfers in sunlight); Keoki Saguibo (child submerged in water); Vince Cavataio (Instagram of surfer)]