The film photography community keeps growing and we knew it was going to happen. This summer, we often read about how innovation and creative efforts are being done in our beloved field. One of the projects that caught our attention was called The Intrepid Camera, whose goal is to make large format a little more accessible for all of us. Maxim and Eddie, the core members of this vibrant young company, were able to quickly and successfully fund their Kickstarter campaign. We believe in their craft, and so will you, after you’ve read our quick interview with them!
What lead you to the idea/concept of manufacturing large format 4×5 cameras? What was the initial spark to turn a university project into a bigger endeavor?
To be honest, it was the amount of like-minded people who e-mailed us asking if we could make them a camera; it wasn’t so much that we wanted to start a company at that point. We just got really excited about sharing the project and having a community of people using the camera.
What were you guys doing before this project?
At the start it was just Eddie and me. We both met at the university of Sussex and were in the same class, studying Product Design. We bonded by nerding out over photography and went straight from our degree show to figuring out where the project could go.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
We knew that the ethos behind the project was not only sharing an affordable camera but also what that camera gives you: an excuse to go on adventures and travel and explore. The name “intrepid” just seemed to fit, it kind of just happened, really.
You mentioned that you enjoy shooting large format photography; what elements are you particularly drawn to, than say, 35mm film?
I love getting a tangible image after a shoot even if its just a negative. It’s huge and you can feel and see it and you know how it was made and how it works. You have complete ownership over your photography with large format. I also love hiking and being outside. Granted, all of this is just my opinion but I think large format photography can ground you and connect you with the world more than other types. The process is just special.
Did you feel you were taking a bigger risk not catering to the more commonly used 35mm and 120 film formats?
The whole project has been a massive risk for us; we have not regretted it for a second though. The great thing about large format is it can be a natural progression from medium format or 35mm so it attracts all photographers (hopefully).
You utilized Kickstarter to fund and set up your company. Were you surprised at the response for your cameras and large format photography in general?
We were after £27,000 and to be honest we thought it was about 50/50 that we would get it. After 30 days, we finished on £63,000; it was mad and completely humbling to be so trusted by the photography community.
All your cameras are 100% handmade. Was this a conscious decision from the start or a cost-effective measure? Do you feel there is a greater sense of value, in terms of connecting to your users, using this hands-on approach?
I guess this one is more to do with how the camera was designed. It was and still is a very hands on project. We work with some really cool suppliers for a few bits, but yeah, like you said most of the camera is hand-made. We designed the camera so that they could be made on a small scale in our workshop and this is how we pass on a massive saving to customers. We also love that we have total control over the process and we spend a lot of time with each camera. It’s mad, really: you do get to know each individual camera as no two are exactly the same. It’s almost a bit sad when you see them go out the door. Is that a bit pathetic?
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? How did you get past it?
The most challenging aspect of the project is learning how to run a small company. We are all a bunch of photography enthusiasts and designers, and it’s been a really steep learning curve but we have had some help from a great accountant called Sam, and have learnt so much over the last year about how to run a small company.
In a world where portability and speed rules, large format photography can be seen as time consuming and cumbersome. Why do you think people are still practicing this type of photography? How is it rewarding to you?
This is an easy one, because it is the complete opposite to everything we are exposed to every day. It takes ages, it hardly ever goes right, it’s completely analogue, and most of all, it’s one of the best escapes from all of the stress that we have created for ourselves.
If you had to convince someone who felt this method of photography was expensive and somewhat obsolete in our time, what would you say?
Just try it, even if you just get your hands on a 35mm camera. Spend a weekend with it, shoot anything and get some physical pictures printed. And if you don’t get it after that, well, keep going, because traditional photography is worth every second you put into it.
What is next for the Intrepid Camera Company? Do you have any news for us and our readers?
Next big step is to get some more products out there, we have so many ideas and are planning a simple and even more light weight non folding 4×5 for absolute beginners and also an affordable 8×10 camera. I won’t say too much now but we think 2016 is going to be a big year for us.
Get to know them better in the link below or this sweet video!