Large format photography in the time of tightening security

April 27, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

When I'm working in the city with a large format camera I like to talk with people who are walking around. About my old wooden camera, state of photography, city development, life. With low sensitive dry plates, it is nice to have somebody talk during long exposures. The last time I had a company of two secret service men. 

That day I was making pictures of Kukurica building. The name (Corn in Engish), is based on the shape of the building. It was build in 1977 and with 82m it was at that that time the highest building with a round footprint in Europe. Today it is not in the best shape, but its elegant profile is still a one of the city landmarks. And, as I discovered later, Ministry of Defense has something just in the next building. 

It was in the beginning of 24 minutes exposure when two men in civilian clothes came to me. One of the showed me a small black badge. I don't have my ID with myself - by Slovak law, it is not mandatory. We disputed few minutes, but at least I admitted that they are at the work just as me. I gave my name and date of birth to one of them and he had gone to check it to a nearby building.

It took nearly twenty minutes. I was still making exposure and, unavoidable, talking with the second agent. About Kukurica building architecture, new apartments that are built just behind the corner, the fate of abandoned railroad behind us,  the city development, about photography and dry plates and, of course, about the weather. He was mainly listening and some reaction occurs only when I mentioned some scandals of ineffective government IT investments or was complaining about a fascist party which is from the last election a part of our parliament. It was not easy to read him, to know what he is thinking about these things.

The first agent returned after twenty minutes. He apologized and said me just to continue in my artistic affairs. We shook hands, wished a good day and they left. It was just in time to finish the exposure.



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