A Humble Beginning
By now you've probably heard the story of the 35mm Wood Camera, as it was one of our most-read and shared pieces ever. And for good reason: the story is unique, interesting, and - like most good things in photography- came somewhat unexpectedly.
The truth is that as soon as we saw the finished product, we were already thinking about what to do next. Before we launched the 35mm Wood Camera to the world, before we heard from people around the world how beautiful they were, and before they all sold out, we were already planning our next big move.
That move was the TLR Wood Camera.
You see, George is a rare find. And we knew we had only scratched the surface of what we could do together. He is the archetype of a humble breed of artisan makers and craftsmen from generations past. Although retired from his lifelong work as a master in woodcraft for many years, George continues to tinker and make smaller scale handmade items in his garage, quite literally.
This of course, means that he can only work when the weather is warm. As you may know, Philly is a bit chilly in the winter, and you can't really work wood properly in an unheated garage when it's below freezing.
So as soon as we called him up in mid January almost a year ago, just a few weeks after we launched the 35mm Wood Camera, he immediately reminded us that he couldn't get started on any making or prototyping until the weather warmed up.
But that didn't mean we couldn't start designing and planning.
Hope Springs Eternal
As soon as April rolled around and the weather finally thawed (we had some late snowstorms near the end of March), we called him up again and went and paid him a visit.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we launched into a feverish design, development, prototyping and iterating process. Except instead of computer code, it was all painstaking, manual artisan-level expert woodwork.
We made multiple prototypes, each time making small or large tweaks to the overall design, the type of wood being used for each part of the camera, and even the arrangement of the different types of wood on parts that had more than one type.
Because of all the deliberate, slow manual labor involved, each prototype took weeks to make and finish. And each time, we got together with George and took a good hard look at it, poring over every detail and debating the merits of adding a piece here or using a different color wood there.
In the end, we settled on a single integrated drawer design, to avoid the issues that can develop over time with moving parts like hinges. After all, these are heirloom-quality pieces, and we want them to last 100 years or more.
The Finished Work
In the final design, each TLR Wood Camera is made of 5 different types of wood from around the world.
They include some wood types that are rare and distinct, that were specially selected for their superior beauty and grain.
The top plate, lens front elements and feet are Maple.
The body of the camera and removable drawer are Walnut.
The focusing knob and film advance knob are Oak
The lens rims and faceplate are Purpleheart
The lens back plate behind the lenses and in front of the faceplate is Black Walnut.
Details & Specifications
- Each of these 10 cameras was handmade in Philadelphia.
- Each piece of wood is carefully finished with 5 layers of ultra-thin satin coating to protect the wood and enhance the grain.
- All materials are natural woods of various types - each camera will have its own unique wood characteristics
- The removable drawer holds a 2" deep stack of standard business cards.
- Each camera comes with a unique edition number and materials card describing the types of wood used
- Care instructions are included to ensure your TLR Wood Camera lasts a lifetime and beyond.
- This is a Limited Edition - only 10 have been made.
- Dimensions: 5.25" Tall x 3.75" Wide x 4.5" Deep (at widest points)
Where to Find It:
You can get one here. If they're no longer available, sorry. Given how much work goes into each one, George could only make 10 of them.
See if there's any left of the Twin Lens Reflex Wood Camera.