Photoshop makes it easy for even casual photographers to create mesmerizing tricks of the eye. Charlie Kitchen wants no truck with that. He’s old-school, and crafts his illusions entirely within the camera.
The Texan made these mind-bending photos using a large format film camera and stencils. Each took days. “My tendency has always been to put a lot of—sometimes too much—work into anything I do,” he says.
He started fiddling with the idea three years ago after taking up large format photography. Kitchen liked the time it takes to focus the lens, compose the frame, and expose the image. But he wanted to do something more with it, and drew inspiration from the Hannah Whitaker‘s experimental in-camera collages. “There are so many aspects of the photographic process that can be altered, and the medium itself is relatively untapped,” he says.
Kitchen ruined an ungodly amount of film in the 18 months he spent honing his technique. It starts with a 3-D form in Google Sketchup, which provides the shapes for stencils he cuts from black paper. Kitchen tends to shoot near his home in San Antonio, working with a tripod-mounted
Toyo View G 4×5 camera. He inserts a stencil in the film holder, and fires the shutter. Then he swaps the stencil for another, moves the camera slightly, and fires the shutter, exposing the same piece of film. He’ll do this over and over for as long as an hour, creating images that look like a landscape reflected in a funhouse mirror.
No Photoshop necessary.