Stephen Takacs is a freelance photographer, and educator based in Columbus Ohio. His larger than life camera obscura project, Brownie In Motion, debuted at Ingenuity Cleveland in 2013 and has been on the road ever since.
I’m excited to announce that ‘Stephen Takacs – The Brownie In Motion Project’ will being opening in just two weeks at the Bushwick Community Darkroom in Brooklyn, NY. I’m planning to have the camera obscura on display along with many of my favorite portraits from the project. You can check out more about the opening reception on October 17th by visiting:
This year the Ohio Camera Collector’s Society turns 50! Established in 1968, OCCS is America’s oldest club dedicated to preserving the history of Photography. Members, collectors and dealers gather from across the US, Canada and beyond to buy, sell and trade everything photographic. To celebrate their golden anniversary, the club is hosting an auction, camera show, speaker series, wet plate demo and The Brownie in Motion Project on the weekend of May 18 & 19th in Columbus, Ohio.
The auction takes place at the Embassy Suites by Hilton on the Northside of Columbus on Friday May 18th from 1-5pm and is free and open to the public. That same day guest speakers will be presenting in the Scioto Room from 7:30-10:30PM. Seating is limited so purchase a ticket!
The current speaker lineup is as follows:
• Daniel Hausman, “Ohio Made Photographica”
• Walter Johnson The history of OCCS and camera collecting
• Jason Schneider “Finding, collecting and using vintage cameras”
• Grant Romer, “The mirror camera of Alexander Wolcott”
On Saturday May 19th from 9am to 1pm the camera sale and swap will be happening in the Capitol Room of the Embassy Suites located at 2700 Corporate Exchange Drive. Admission is $5 and $3 for students with ID. Then from 1:00-5:00 PM there is a photographic collection open house at the OSU Thompson Library, followed by a Wet Plate Collodion demonstration by Ed Gately from 3-4pm.
The auction, sale, and speakers will all be happening at the Embassy Suites located on 2700 Corporate Exchange Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43231. The Thompson library is located on the North Oval of The Ohio State University Campus.
The Brownie In Motion Project will be visiting the Columbus Museum of Art’s annual fundraising gala Wonderball tonight. From 8pm until midnight, attendees will have the opportunity to literally walk inside the Brownie In Motion camera and view a projection of the world turned upside down.
Gala attendees will enter the curtains at the rear of the camera (making sure to close them behind themselves) and the shutter will automatically open revealing an upside down view of the Chihuly glass in front of it.
I’m excited to share that I’m part of an ambitious photography exhibition at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio. In Our Own Image: The Genesis of Photography and the Contemporary Eye juxtaposes wonderful and varied examples of 19th Century Photography (daguerreotypes, tintypes, carte de vistes, ect.) against the work of contemporary alternative photographic processes practitioners such as David Emitt Adams, and Francis Schenemburger among others.
Jointly curated by Arnold Tunstall and Scott Ferris the show runs from September 9th – December 31st, 2017. In this exhibition, I’ll be showing an series of large format 16″ x 16″ ambrotypes of individuals named Stephen titled ‘A Case Study of Stephen,‘ as well as a three tintype collages.
I’ll be holding a number of “open studio days” in which I’ll shoot a series of 4″x5″tintype portraits of visitors that will be collaged and evolve throughout the course of the exhibition. The next open studios days are:
For the remainder of the month of November, the Brownie In Motion Project is on display at the Krempp Gallery in Japser, Indiana alongside the work of Indiana native photographer Kay Westhues.
Although our technique and aesthetics vary, Kay’s work pairs beautifully with the Brownie In Motion Project. Shot exclusively in the small town of Walkerton, Indiana Kay’s bright color images explore the duality of change and tradition in rural America. Kay says that her ongoing body of work began while familiarizing herself with a DSLR (after years of shooting with a 4 x 5 film camera.) Initially, creating images for this body of work was part of a daily practice that both helped her learn a new photographic tools while also exploring a new way of engaging with her community.
One of my favorite images from Kay’s body of work depicts a couple conversing on a wooden deck outside of a mobile home while an enormous peacock sits perched in the center of the frame. The birds colorful plumes powerfully contrast against the down-on-their-luck deck and the autumnal woods. Many of Kay’s most successful images depict the strangeness and as well as beauty of everyday life in small town America transporting us to a place that is both familiar and foreign.
People sometimes ask me if I can shoot color photographs with Brownie In Motion. “Yes,” I tell them, “but, I don’t because of the toxicity of color chemistry. Plus, it’s really hard to get your hands on Cibrachrome these days!”
That said, my friend and fellow photographer Jeremiah Stilson recently unearthed a color photograph that he made in 2014 using Brownie In Motion while I was visiting North Carolina.
What a surprise! I’d totally forgotten about Jeremiah shooting this test photograph of me with 4×5 film pinned inside of the Brownie! For numerous health/logistical/economic reasons, I don’t intend to start shooting color photos with this camera anytime soon but it’s nice to know\show that it can be done!
Jeremiah Stilson studied Fine Art at The Ohio State University, and currently resides in New York. See his work at StilsonStudio.com .
What better way to celebrate Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day than to make your own pinhole camera? Taking advantage of artist Stephen Takacs knowledge on the subject, I joined his Pinhole Camera Workshop at the OAL X Space last week.
Stephen provided a brief history of the pinhole cam, along with solid options of vessels, materials and instructions on how to craft our own. After assembling the cameras, he taught us how to load them in the darkroom. From there, we found a secluded location to shoot, experimented with exposure time, and headed back to the darkroom to see the results. Takacs had taught us well, as all the images were successful.
After a few more shoots and trips to the darkroom, each member of the workshop had fresh prints to take home, a new camera to experiment with, and a lot of appreciation for pre-digital technology!
Amy Hargus is a photographer/visual content editor who appreciates both hi-tech and low-tech cameras.
I’m not an artist. I can’t even take a decent picture for Instagram. I am clueless about photography, but as a writer I know a great deal about setting a scene, and Stephen Takacs’ Brownie in Motion gallery is quite the scene. Upon walking into the Cultural Arts Center, the surreal images of the camera obscura evoke a sense of wonder. The camera obscura has a personality that easily caught my attention and drew me into the images; then, as I ventured further into the gallery, I was confronted with the camera obscura, and I was truly a part of this surreal exhibit. The photographs that lined the walls were those taken with the camera obscura, and I was enveloped by this world Stephen created. Compared to the vibrant and surreal digital photographs visible upon entering, the black and white photographs surrounding me then seemed grounded, as if they were bringing me back to earth. They evoke this feeling of nostalgia, despite being taken in the last couple of years. I had to periodically remind myself that I was not looking into the distant past.
The portraits in particular caught my attention more than anything else. One that I particularly enjoyed was Sue Cavanaugh: Fiber Artist. On first glance, the image feels regal, this stern woman looking down on me. But the longer I look at her the more I see in her. Through her sunglasses I can see half-closed eyes; she is not looking on with contempt, she seems exhausted, like a woman who has done what was hard and now just needs to rest. The corner of her mouth had a slight upturn, suggesting that what I first thought was a scowl were just the signs of a long life playing across her face. She is not a queen looking down on her subjects with derision, she is a mother looking on to her children, appreciating the work she has done.
The portrait Big Mike: Ropemaker really grabbed my attention as well. When I saw the photo, I was both humored and impressed by Big Mike. He is definitely large in stature, but the emotional presence he evokes is large as well. His face is stoic. From his size to his facial hair to the rope he works with, Big Mike is masculine. Not only that, but he is a particular kind of man. Big Mike represents a standard of masculinity that is disappearing. The image that men must be big, strong, and unfeeling is fading from our collective consciousness, and with it so is Big Mike.
As I left the gallery I admired once more the individuals, practices, and ideals that are disappearing from our world. I looked again into the fading world of the camera obscura before reentering the vibrant reality of the digital photographs, and I left the gallery wondering how long before my way of doing things would die out as well.
Brownie In Motion: Traveling Picture Show is on view at the Columbus Cultural Art Center until March 19th, 2016.
Stephen Takacs has created an amazing collection of photos while traveling the country with his room-sized camera obscura. The Brownie Camera/Darkroom is on display, giving some context to the undertaking of constructing, using and traveling with this humongous contraption. It’s size is strategic and ingenious in one really important way- the camera doubles as a darkroom! The exposure is made on light sensitive paper and then developed from inside the Brownie, without ever exiting the camera itself.
The entrance to the show features photos of the Brownie on the road. These modern photographs serve as not only a document of the Brownie’s travels, but also a bright, saturated counterpoint to the deep-black, monochromatic photographs produced by the camera. The subjects of Stephen’s portraits…