35-foot camera to capture big shots across the country

February 14, 2012 5:24:34 PM PST
In the age of tiny, high-tech cameras, Chicago photographer Dennis Manarchy has built -- from scratch -- a throwback to the age of early photography.

The camera is huge, filling almost his entire River North studio. It's an old-style camera with futuristic results.

"It's a 35- foot camera that produces original film negatives six feet tall. And the resolution of that negative is about a thousand times greater than anything else available on the planet at this time," Manarchy said.

Manarchy works with a subject, sometimes for hours, just to take one photo of someone like fashion designer Sky Cubacub. Inside the bellows, of course, it would be pitch black, but he shows ABC7 how the six foot negative would be rolled into place. As for the shutter, there isn't one.

"When I take the cover off, it's dark so there's no exposure until I flash it. So I take the cover off and flash it and put the cover back on," Manarchy said.

The result is six foot negatives like these of World War II fighter pilot ace Bill Cullerton. In his 88 years, he has never seen anything like this.

"It's just beautiful," Cullerton said. "I can't believe it's happening to me."

They enlarge the photos to two and-a-half stories high. The detail is incredible. You can see every eyelash and every pore. The camera captures the faces of America, much larger than life. And will travel the country recording the vanishing cultures.

"What we're trying to do is capture this little essence of this country before it totally gets homogenized. Before everyone gets homogenized," Manarchy said.

Just in case you're thinking of having your photo taken, the cost is $50,000. To set up a sitting, call Chad at Manarchy Studios, 773 263-1950.