Shaun Irving and His Cameratruck
As a photography student at Hampden Sydney College, Shaun Irving already understood how a camera worked. In fact, he understood it so well that he joked with a fellow student about how practically anything could be made into a camera. Though he might not have known it at the time, Irving started down a path that would change his life that night when he uttered the words, “We could even turn a truck into a camera and drive it around and take pictures.”
A few years later that idea still lingered, so Shaun bought a truck off eBay, bought some military surplus lenses, and assembled Cameratruck. Also known as Peanut.
Cameratruck’s design is brilliant in its simplicity. The process, however, is quite time-consuming. Irving lines the hole in the truck up with the image he wants to take. He uses a small piece of photographic paper to determine the appropriate exposure time. The lenses project the image’s negative onto the back wall of the truck, where Irving has taped up a large (6 ft. wide by 3.5 to 4 ft. tall) piece of photographic paper. This creates the negative Irving will use to make the final picture.
He develops the negative by rubbing developer and fixer onto the paper by hand with a sponge. He calls this “letting the chemistry do its work.” He then uses another piece of photographic paper and some Plexiglas to create the photo. It takes more developer and more fixer and a lot of elbow grease, and the finished product shows the brush strokes, the places where the developer sat a little too long, the occasional footprint, the occasional blade of grass – and it’s beautiful.
The photos are rough, huge, and some will take your breath away. It isn’t just the sheer size. It’s the way they capture the world. The somber, surreal, and almost reverent way they capture the image and communicate it through the work of Shaun’s own hands. Every photo is touched by Shaun himself, and it makes each one that much more special.
An advertising company in Spain saw Shaun’s unique work and put him on tour in Spain, driving around and taking pictures in a different Cameratruck he assembled while he was there. A documentary crew followed him and made the film Landscapes In A Truck.
To see some of Shaun’s work in person, check out his October 2nd opening at Rockett’s Landing.