Homemade camera out of cardboard tubes

Your images are not good enough and you think you have reasons to complain? Maybe your camera is not high-end? Or maybe you need new lenses? For sure some good lights would help… We, people, find many reasons when things are not as we wish them to be. I think this story will bring a sad smile on your face.

Tichy & Homemade camera

Who is the guy that said: “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”Miroslav Tichý – an artist born in 1926 in Netcice (today part of town Kyjov) in the Czech Republic. He studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Prague under guidance of Jan Zelibsky, where he received recognition among his classmates for being very good draftsman and having an immense talent. He left studies in 1948 and returned in his home town where he stayed. In the beginning of his career Tichý mainly focused on his painting and drawing skills but in 60’s he switched to his strange way of taking photos, that made him famous.

From the ’60s until ’85 he took thousands of furtive pictures, using homemade cameras constructed of cardboard tubes, shoeboxes, tin cans, plexiglass and other untypical materials, polishing the lenses with toothpaste and cigarette ash. The photographs are blurry, badly printed, scratched, spotted and encrusted with who knows what. They all show girls and young women, in public places, mostly unaware of the camera (some subjects assumed that his camera was fake). He clearly admired legs, and backsides, often cropping the image to show just the lower body. Sometimes he drew directly on the images, emphasizing the figure’s contours with pencil lines and made elaborate hand-drawn frames for many of them.

Tichy's Work

He didn’t care about his image and was tolerated by people as the town eccentric, with his strange habits and appearance – he wore a ratty sweater and didn’t cut his hair. The authorities though were not as sympathetic, this distinctness of his brought him to conflict with them, he was considered an enemy of the regime and had to spend some time in mental hospital. His photography fits very well in the non violent dissent of czech students and artists during and after the Soviet invasion of 1968, when the nurturing Prague Spring was followed by a crackdown on free expression and political liberalization.

I thought his story is fascinating and full of motivating elements, so I had to share it with you. See more of Tichý’s work here. Let me know what you think. I want to know! 😉


Info and images courtesy of TichyFotograf.cz and the Facebook Page made on his name by Tichy Ocean Foundation.


[whohit]Homemade Camera[/whohit]

Alexandra Vezure

Mother, wife, friend and confidant. Graphic designer delivering high quality, creative services for over 10 years. Master in Adobe Photoshop (Brainbench License 8036895). Member of Social Psychology Network. Passionate about people and people's images. Read more on the about page and let's connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

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