Box camera enthusiast to debut 'Potret Jalanan' series on KL streets


With his first outdoor street event in KL, Lim is on a mission to introduce the charm and artistry of box cameras to the general public. Photo: Jeffrey Lim

Jeffrey Lim, a passionate box camera enthusiast and heritage trades researcher, is bringing a touch of nostalgia to the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur with his Kanta Studio project.

With a newly secured DBKL permit, Lim is set introduce his "Potret Jalanan" initiative to the masses, setting up pop-up photography stations in various locations around the city.

Here, curious onlookers can witness firsthand the magic of vintage box cameras.

The "Potret Jalanan" series, adding a new street art highlight through self-made box camera portrait photography, will debut on June 1 at the Pasar Foto event, organised by an independent photography group.

It will take place at the River of Life area, Jalan Mahkamah Persekutuan in KL.

"I'll be like a street peddler. You can find me at the location by the bridge overlooking Masjid Jamek on June 1 from 10am to 3pm. I'll be making street portraits for individuals or pairs, with the entire process taking about 15 minutes. I plan to do this at least once a month at various spots around KL," says Lim, who has been a familiar sight with his box camera at arts events and gallery programmes since 2012.

With 'Potret Jalanan', Lim wants more people to learn about traditional silverprint photography. Photo: Jeffrey Lim With 'Potret Jalanan', Lim wants more people to learn about traditional silverprint photography. Photo: Jeffrey Lim

"They (customers) will receive a traditional silver gelatin, black and white portrait print of themselves at the end of the session, the size is (roughly) 10cm x 13cm. I have decided to keep the fee affordable at RM25 as part of the Rahmah initiative of our country, but the standard fee is RM40 for those who would like to support this ("Potret Jalanan") initiative," he adds.

"This method of photography is over a century old," reveals Lim, who typically transports his box camera and photo-processing gear on his motorcycle.

"It's known as a living form of photography because it involves a hands-on process that brings the art to life right before your eyes. The photograph is taken, processed by hand, and ready within five minutes."

Silver Halide or Silver Gelatin print is the common type of black and white photograph of the 20th century. Photo: Jeffrey LimSilver Halide or Silver Gelatin print is the common type of black and white photograph of the 20th century. Photo: Jeffrey Lim

At Masjid Jamek this Saturday, Lim's box camera (mounted on a tripod) serves as both the camera and the darkroom processing tank, producing traditional silver gelatin black-and-white prints.

"Potret Jalanan" is a programme Lim aims to develop further this year, exploring the feasibility of making portraits on the streets of KL and inviting curious onlookers to get involved.

"This new initiative, part of my Kanta Studio photography practice, aims to share this art form and provide economic opportunities for art practitioners interested in learning and adopting this craft," says Lim, who has drafted a training workshop and is exploring box camera production next.

This year, Lim expanded Kanta Studio's reach by establishing a "Darkroom" in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, and a mobile "Fotografik Van" studio, both dedicated to practising traditional silverprint photography.

In addition to Kanta Studio's "Potret Jalanan", Lim is also developing the "Kopi Lau" workshop programme, focusing on the research of local coffee culture and history.

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