Kodak No.3A Junior Portrait Project

Browsing in a local used camera store, I can across an old camera. Nothing unusual there, but this one was different. The camera is made by Kodak, a trusted name in photography for generations and through my research I discovered it was made in 1918. A date burned into the consciousness of every one from the Commonwealth as the year the First World War ended.

I had already photographed the First World War battlefields and wanted to show there is still a direct connection with that conflict. Mankind should learn from history and not see it as a bunch of random events that sit in books. So I wanted to work with people, but how? Anyone actively involved in the conflict is no longer with us.

Then I read a newspaper story about a man who was 100. He never knew his father as the man died in the First World War, so I wondered how many similar people there were. And that was the basis for the project. To photograph people born the same year the camera was made and in doing.

The camera

The Kodak No.3A Junior Autographic was released in 1918 and called a folding pocket camera. This style was popular at the time, but you would need big pockets to carry this one. It is a pretty big camera and used to take a film format that produced negatives the size of a postcard.

The film was discontinued in the 1970s so I converted the camera to take 120 film, which is still available. The modifications allowed me to fit the modern film into the camera, but I can only get eight pictures from one roll of film, so each image is precious and so I work slowly and methodically to ensure everything is technically correct. This camera has no exposure meter and I have to set the correct aperture, shutter speed and focus point. All of which I cannot see if they are correct. This is photography, when photography was hard, and I love it.

A shoot

If you know someone that age, perhaps it is a relative or a friend, I would love to get in touch to set up a shoot. It does not matter where in the UK they are as I travel widely with my other work and can arrange a time and date to suit us both.

Do you know someone who will be 100 in 2018? If so please get in touch

Gavin Parsons

A shoot will not normally take long. I go to the place the model chooses. It could be their home, a relative's home, a day centre, anywhere really. I shoot with available light with maybe a reflector and that is it. I will take a shot with my modern digital camera and then take a roll or two of film with the Kodak No.3A. I then process the images and digitise them before printing.

The model will receive a print of the portrait I select as the best image of the shoot.

There is no charge for the shoot or the print. If relatives etc would like other prints this can be arranged for a small cost to cover expenses of printing and postage.