Chiara Obscura

California Today: An Analog View of California:

John Chiara does his photography from scratch.

Even as taking pictures has gotten simpler, Mr. Chiara, 46, constructs his own box cameras — known as camera obscuras — that draw in light through a small hole onto photographic paper.

His biggest camera is the size of a small elephant, which he hauls on a trailer and positions in front of his subjects.

To take a photograph, he squeezes his body inside the camera and pulls a trap door behind him. He positions a sheet of photographic paper as large as four feet by six feet and then manipulates the light and length of exposure.

A single picture takes about half a day.

Chiara’s photos have an amazing, imperfect, analog feel to them.

They’re not even square. I love it.

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