Camera selfies: Turning the lens on themselves

Story highlights

Without the help of pouty faces and Instagram filters, vintage cameras pose for "selfies"

Jürgen Novotny collected historic cameras from friends or on auction sites like eBay

Novotny captures them with his modern, digital Fujifilm X-T1 in a small studio

CNN  — 

You won’t see any pouty lips or peace signs in these selfies. The criticized and laughable trend has spread to the devices used to capture them.

Prepping for their ultimate self-portrait, vintage cameras docked on old tripods pucker up for their own selfie against backdrops that bring out their best qualities. No filters necessary.

These unusual photos offer a view of the oft forgotten film cameras that brought us to the digital age and ushered in the selfie.

Wanting to capture the rich history of analog in a modern, striking fashion, photographer and engineer Jürgen Novotny developed CameraSelfies, a continuing project featuring cameras from the 1920s onward.

Novotny has a personal tie to some of these antique cameras: The Agfa Silette was a gift from his father when he turned 6. It gave him the outlet to deal with his “creative boosts,” he said, the freedom to isolate moods and generate “special, subjective views on a situation.”

Jürgen Novotny

This passion turned into a portfolio with styles ranging from still life to surreal landscapes. Novotny could think of no better way to pay homage to the medium of his work than by having the cameras themselves display their true colors.

He began to collect historic cameras from friends or on auction sites like eBay for little to nothing.

“I learned that nondigital cameras seemed in fact to be forgotten … beautiful and still great equipment I couldn’t afford a few years ago are now available for a few bucks. Good for me, but somehow sad,” Novotny said, reminding him a bit of the “Toy Story” movie.

“What if those abandoned and forgotten cameras would try to depict themselves and their situation? Without users anymore, looking back upon their glorious times?” he said.

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    Thus, the idea for CameraSelfies was born.

    The photographs themselves are not selfies in the traditional definition. Novotny captures them with his modern, digital Fujifilm X-T1 in a small modest studio.

    “I tried to capture them in their ‘natural’ and chronologically correct environment, on backgrounds of contemporary wallpapers,” he said.

    CameraSelfies uses the “selfiemania,” trend to remind the viewer of the origins of photography, and also keep in mind that expressive photography is more than noise reduction, smile detection and technical specifications, he said.

    “These cameras are not only tools reduced to their technical data, but also still an inspiration for artists and a source for creativity. Here, the viewer is out of the frame, the cameras and the creative potential they offer stand in the foreground.”

    Jürgen Novotny is a photographer based in Germany. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.