Celebrating The Art of Low-Tech Photography with Krappy Kameras

Magical images can result from the simplest tools.

Karch, Kristin Judith in my Apartment First Prize

In our technology-saturated age, the annual Krappy Kamera competition is like a breath of fresh air. The challenge? Contestants from all over the world produce beautiful, sophisticated prints using only pinhole, toy, and plastic cameras. Work by the winners, along with dozens of runners-up of the 17th annual competition—juried by Miriam Leuchter—are on view at the Soho Photo Gallery in Tribeca through February 28.

As the contest’s organizers remind contestants, “In the hands of an artist, great photographs can be made with basic equipment.”

Leuchter, who is editor in chief of both Popular Photography and American Photo Magazine, told artnet News about her selection process, saying that she tried to go into the judging with “an open mind, and really to look for images that moved me in some way, that I found visually exciting, emotionally stimulating, or intellectually challenging.”

What began 22 years ago as a members’ show grew into an international competition. Member submissions are no longer permitted.

We visited the gallery on the show’s opening night, earlier this month, to meet with the winners and other exhibitors. Top selections ranged from a black-and-white pinhole photo by Cummings, Georgia-based student Kristen Karch of a cardboard cutout of her grandmother, to a somewhat creepy, gothic image of a doll posed in front of gate, and an image called Starburst that evokes Daguerreotypes.

Also on view is the compelling work of guest photographer Craig Barber, who is showing images taken during a recent trip to Vietnam, where he served as a marine during the war. He went back twenty-eight years later and took the photographs with a handmade pinhole camera. Barber called the trip “healing” and said he would recommend it to other veterans as well.

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