Hand-crafted cameras and calendars

Two photography calendars

This being the New Year’s holiday season in Japan, the bookstores seem to have been taken over by large displays of every manner of 2009 calendars. Although there are a few tastefully designed ones, as well the old Hokusai and Hiroshige standbys, there are also disturbingly large amounts of “Lighthouses of New England” types as well.

The current crop of photo magazines also have 2009 calendars bundled together with them, but sadly these are hardly an improvement. This month’s Asahi Camera comes with a 2009 calendar full of cat photos that stretches the bounds of decent taste, in this person’s humble opinion (and I’m a cat lover, so no flames please!). PHAT’s calendar features 12 picture postcard images from Bora Bora that does neither getaway islands nor calendars any favors.

Nippon Magazine: Camera Photos: Leica 1f
Fortunately, Nippon Camera comes to the rescue with a calendar any true photography lover would love to have on their walls. They call it “Cover Cameras” and it is the literal handiwork of Yasuhiko Ishikawa. Each month a different camera is featured, including a Leica If for January, a couple of Bosley B2’s for April, and a Hasselblad SWC for December. Digital cameras are represented too.

As I have alluded to and the pictures included here perhaps give away, these are not pictures of the cameras themselves, but rather pictures of cameras Ishikawa has made with a variety of cheap materials and modeled on their “real” counterparts. Each mock camera is accompanied by some text by Ishikawa, who divides his writing equally between venerating the real camera and discussing how he made the particular model on display, how much the materials cost (very cheap, in most instances). My favorite of the bunch, shown in the extended slide show, is a Casio Exilim Pro Ex-F1 that features a body made from a cross section of a law book Ishikawa picked up for a dollar and change at a used bookstore.

Ishikawa is a designer doing both graphic and product design — his flash-based website provides ample samples (though sadly none of these hand-made cameras). As if these cameras weren’t enough evidence, the way he writes about his “cameras” reveal a quirkiness that’s quite endearing.

Koji Onaka 2009 CalendarAnother cool calendar choice for the photography lover is also from someone known for a certain quirkiness, not to mention a dry humor: photographer Koji Onaka. For this 2009 calendar, which is signed by Onaka and available in very limited quantities, Onaka has assembled a total of 14 landscapes/cityscapes done in his customary, high-contrast style.

Koji Onaka 2009 Calendar InteriorThe front and back covers feature photos from Mexico and Viet Nam, but the interior photos for each month are from different parts of Japan, including a couple from Kimitsu in Chiba where he grew up. (See photo to the right.) The pictures have some tangible connection to the months (a snowy scene for February, cherry blossom petals on the ground for April), as well as some much looser connections like his photo from the town of Obama in Fukui Prefecture for November (the town featured in a lot of silly news stories this year for obvious reasons).

Included is a 6-day excerpt from his travel diary, although this, like his typically understated captions for each photo, is only in Japanese.

Click the top image to bring up a gallery of larger images from these calendars. If you are interested in obtaining either of these, please get in touch with us using the form on the services page, but do it quick!