IMAGOphotour: World’s biggest mobile Self-Portrait Camera

IMAGO1:1 self-portraits © Susanna Kraus

The world’s only life-size 1:1 walk-in camera, on a journey to make it travel the world as the IMAGOphotour.

This is not just an over sized pinhole camera, it is a unique and brilliantly designed camera based on a special objective, conceived by an inventor and physicist, Werner Kraus, that made it possible to take 1:1 life-size portraits without any perspectival distortions!

Artist Susanna Kraus is the daughter of the inventor and physicist Werner Kraus, when back in the 1970s Kraus’s father, together with his friend, the artist Erhard Hößle, built the IMAGO1:1 camera. A camera that is based on a unique optical system which takes real, life-size 1:1 portraits of people on to direct positive black & white photographic paper, which measures to 60x200cm (2×6.5ft). Until this day this magical camera remains exclusive and still operates in Berlin, Germany, but Kraus wants to change this, through a Kickstarter campaign she started in hope to raise £95,000 to allow this gigantic camera to travel around the world.

Kraus says on here Kickstarter campaign: “My father died at the end of last year. During my childhood I heard so often my father speaking about his dream of a ‘mobile’ camera IMAGO1:1. More than ever before, I want to make our dream come true and build the IMAGOphotour. It is the mobile version of the camera IMAGO1:1, based on modern day material and designed to travel the world. By supporting this project you can help me make this dream come true and be rewarded with your own, one of a kind life-size portrait of yourself.”

 The way the IMAGO1:1 works is that it is an analog camera equipped with a lens designed specifically for life-size photography. It is basically an oversized photo booth where you step into the camera, pose against the mirror and press the shutter release to take your own self-portrait! In order to illuminate the subject with sufficient light intensity, power is generated by eight flash-guns. In hundredths of seconds millions of photons are projected onto the photographic paper through a catadioptric system. Your portrait is then being directly exposed on to the light-sensitive direct positive paper and after 10 minutes you’re standing in front of your life-size black & white portrait.

At a time when images can be reproduced and edited without any limitations, the IMAGO1:1 provides you with a pure moment of yourself. This unique process makes it possible to produce one of a kind portraits of people. Each portrait represents a unique moment captured in time, saved for eternity (up to 100 years) and designed to give you an extraordinary portrait of yourself that no other camera in this world can produce. Since the original IMAGO1:1 from 1970s was not designed as a mobile camera Kraus will be constructing the IMAGOphotour completely from scratch. The outer body will be based on lightweight aluminium parts, the coating will consist of sheet steel, the round front casing for the lens will be made of fiberglass and the roof will consist of foldable canvas. The complete technical equipment and every single element will need to be custom made.

Originally used for reproducing drawings and plans until the 1980s, this special photo sensitive paper went out of production until the re-discovery of the IMAGO1:1 in 2005. Since 2006 the paper has become readily available again worldwide through a joint production by ILFORD Switzerland and Harman technology.

“When I rediscovered the original IMAGO1:1 back in 2005 my two sons, Jakob and Paul, were of incredible help. They helped me taking off the dust, putting all the parts back together and bringing my fathers camera back to life. For the construction of the mobile IMAGOphotour we will put all our know-how together again to make this dream become reality.”

Information: Kickstarter/IMAGO1:1