Meet the photographer who steampunks her own exquisite cameras

dora goodman gives retro cameras new life voigtlander bessa ii
Dora Goodman, with her modified Voigtlander Bessa II with marquetry work. Dora Goodman
Antique cameras don’t just collect dust when Dora Goodman gets ahold of them. Vintage cameras get a new chance to capture life after Goodman updates them with wood, porcelain, and gold – that’s when she’s not producing computer game trailers at her day job.

She also handcrafts camera bodies from scratch. Her first prototype took more than a year, according to PetaPixel. She’s currently working on her second and said she hopes it won’t take as long. Goodman documents her analog work using the very digital medium of social media, namely Instagram and Tumblr, where she posts beautiful images of not only her gear, but of what comes out of them. That’s right, Goodman’s cameras aren’t just decorative, they are highly functional too.

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To Goodman, who is based in Budapest, Hungary, cameras are as artful as the images they create.

“Working on cameras, taking and develop pictures is my meditation,” Goodman told Japan Camera Hunter.

From start to finish, a single refurbished camera could take up to two weeks to make. The process starts with the hunt for a decent analog camera that has “clean lenses and fine clockwork,” she told PetaPixel, before disassembling the machine.

“The rest of the work is days of cutting and grinding, [gluing] and drying, and then grinding again…Pretty time-consuming but totally worth it,” Goodman said.

When asked what is her favorite camera to modify, she told Japan Camera Hunger, “A little marquetry work on a Voigtlander Bessa II, cover a Leica M7 with wood and gold, put some porcelain on a Rollei 35.”

Camera design and restoration isn’t a cheap hobby. Despite the expense, however, Goodman doesn’t want to sell her cameras.

“It takes [your] money slowly. Because of the prototypes and the mistakes and all the small parts,” Goodman told PetaPixel. “It takes so much time and work to make a camera, so at the end of the process I can’t ever imagine selling them. I’m currently working on a new camera that I’m planning to lend to a friend of mine for using/testing… maybe owning it.”

Goodman encourages DIY artists to be steadfast in their pursuits.

“If you are passionate about something and you have the persistence about your project, you will get there,” Goodman said.

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