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  1. #1
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Cameras for Iraq

    I have an idea to send some inexpensive cameras (like XAs) loaded with film to Iraq. The idea would be to send over a reasonable quantity through as many diverse channels as possible.... media orgs, military, red cross/crescent, random mailings, whatever. The cameras would be used and then rounded up and returned for processing.

    If successful, these cameras would reach people who would then do some street-style photography of their situation. So, obviously this is an attempt to get around the limits of the normal news sources. My feeling is that the cameras and film should be written off- assume they won't come back- but whatever does come back could be quite insightful.

    So my questions are:

    (1) Good idea/bad idea? Why

    (2) Which camera platform would be best? A newer one, like a Fuji instax mini? I personally would prefer an original XA but this may be too much to ask if the recipient has no experience at all. So I was thinking to use an inexpensive p&s style camera, maybe an XA2 or similar. It would need to be a mass produced camera from some time ago, for affordability and durability. I don't think the current throwaways would cut it but am open to suggestions. Maybe there are some new Fuji p&s cameras that would be appropriate.

    (3) Which film would be best?

    (4) Do you know of similar projects? Am I duplicating what has been done before? Surely I am. But I googled around and found nothing this ambitious.

    (5) How best to organize this? I was thinking to start a website to organize it. Comments/suggestions/assistance appreciated.

    Important: I don't have any particular policy axe to grind here- please refrain from any comments about the politics of the war itself. This is about people... just an attempt to get some real views from the situation.
    Last edited by keithwms; 04-06-2008 at 02:08 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: spelling!
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  2. #2
    Andy K's Avatar
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    I think disposable cameras might be a better option. Maybe the Ilford HP5+ disposables.

    Last edited by Andy K; 04-06-2008 at 12:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.


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  3. #3
    tommy5c's Avatar
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    what about sending holga's. they are inexpencive, they shoot a larger negative, and they are not one use camera's. send some Velvia, Tri-X , and Delta 100. then all that would need to be shipped back is the film. if a camera gets damaged you only lose 25 bucks.

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    Sorry, I know nothing much about this and I am just making a frivolus comment, perhaps, but if there is no restriction on entering the country, why don't you visit?

    One visit might be worth a thousand Pictures!

    While I don't think you plan is bad, (I just glanced at it- and I do not know where you are comming from with this desire, but) I know that in war when the victor helps the defeated country get back on their feet, they can grow to be friends much sooner than when they ignore their suffering.

    I used to listen to VOA as well as Radio Beijin or something like that... it was interesting... Years ago, When I first visited China, I had a strong apprehension that the people there would be anti-American and worried a bit for my safety.

    Well, I had numerous revealations and some of them I will never forget.

    While riding on a train I found a picture button of Mao... (dont know the spelling so I will leave it at that) I put it on... (no particular reason, more of fashion than anything else, like the way some young people wear the cross or the swasticka etc.etc.) (Well, who knows, perhaps I thought I might blend in better...) anyway, as I walked down the ailse in the train, people began to speak to me and they asked about the button... I shrugged and said "no reason" Someone pulled it off of me and threw it on the floor... Another person asked me where I was from, I replied hesitantly, the US, and there was a slight round of applause... someone gave me the thumbs up sign and said "GOOD COUNTRY!"

    I was totally blown away.
    Listening to the governments continous anti-American comments had convinced me the Chinese did not like Americans... that was not the truth.

    But the Chinese government wasen't telling me that.
    I learned to listen to the people.
    I had a lot interesting experiences after that, with different people in different parts of the country.

    My point of all this is that nothing substitutes for the truth.

    If you go forward with your idea, I hope to see the pictures!
    I also hope the pictures speak the truth.

    Good luck with your project, if you get some interesting images, I would not mind helping to print them up!

    Ray
    Last edited by Ray Rogers; 04-06-2008 at 01:47 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: changed print to help print

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommy5c View Post
    what about sending holga's. they are inexpencive, they shoot a larger negative, and they are not one use camera's. send some Velvia, Tri-X , and Delta 100. then all that would need to be shipped back is the film. if a camera gets damaged you only lose 25 bucks.
    And if the camera doesn't get damaged, all you get is a bunch of muddy light-leaky images with extreme overlap between frames
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  6. #6
    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    You could get Kurt from LightCafe to distribute the cameras once he gets over there. Best to steer clear of any NGOs etc as they will just make sure the photos support their particular message. I like the idea of using disposable cameras.
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  7. #7
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Rogers View Post
    Sorry, I know nothing much about this and I am just making a frivolus comment, perhaps, but if there is no restriction on entering the country, why don't you visit?

    One visit might be worth a thousand Pictures!
    Ray, if it were up to me, I absolutely would go. But I have a family that would literally fall to pieces, I couldn't do it to them. We are so close, we literally sense each other's thoughts even when we're apart. And they know all too well what sorts of risks I will take if I see a shot I want!

    Also, if I went over, it would be an enjoyable adventure for me, but... perhaps I might merely impose with my photography what sorts of (mis)conceptions I have in my head. I know that I do have a tendency to "front-load" my photography and overthink things. So frankly, in this case, I'd rather see shots from people who have their own native perspective.

    I think I'd have a lot of fun helping to prepare a book of prints from a project like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Rose View Post
    You could get Kurt from LightCafe to distribute the cameras once he gets over there. Best to steer clear of any NGOs etc as they will just make sure the photos support their particular message. I like the idea of using disposable cameras.
    Kurt will certainly be one of the distributors, we have already spoken about it. But he's in the green zone and as such, knows what the limits are on his ability to get a fair sampling.

    What I might do is start this small scale and work out the kinks, and slowly build up. There are so many issues.

    Ther possible venues for htis type of project would be Afghanistan and North Korea. Places many of us would love to go with a camera in hand, but simply cannot freely roam.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  8. #8
    edz
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    I have an idea to send some inexpensive cameras (like XAs) loaded with film to Iraq.
    Its Iraq 2008 and not Afghanistan1978 (ok, Kabul had LOADS of cameras). Large numbers of people today have cellular telephones and these include cameras. Few people in Iraq are interested in analog cameras. Its considered "old fashioned".

    The cameras would be used and then rounded up and returned for processing.
    There are LOADS of cameras in Iraq. Iraq is not Saudi Arabia. Many people studied abroad and the middle and educated classes tended to have a very good standard of living to European and American standards.
    You go into the shanty towns and poor city areas? If the cameras have any value they'd vanish f-a-s-t into odd channels. Is just how things work and NOT JUST in Iraq. Same in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria etc. If the cameras don't have any value (and value is about perceived value) then nobody will be interested.
    I would also like to point out that Iraq is not a vacuum. Many artists and intellectuals are already doing their most to try to photo document daily life.

    (1) Good idea/bad idea? Why
    Its a bad idea . Digital cameras, digital video, cameras on cell phones (and many include these days video functionality) are already quite widespread in Iraq. By even conservative estimates there are over 10 million cellular telephone subscribers (and growing).

    Throughout the middle east and north Africa there is absolutely NO shortage of cameras and infrastructure for communication. There is a shortage of the freedom to speak out.
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  9. #9

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    (4) Do you know of similar projects? Am I duplicating what has been done before? Surely I am. But I googled around and found nothing this ambitious.

    This idea reminds me of a similar project of Dutch photographer Geert van Kesteren who collected photographs of random Iraqis, made with their mobile phones. See http://www.baghdadcalling.com/index.html for more info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Rose View Post
    You could get Kurt from LightCafe to distribute the cameras once he gets over there. Best to steer clear of any NGOs etc as they will just make sure the photos support their particular message. I like the idea of using disposable cameras.
    Too late Eric, he's already there.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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