Instant Street Photography, Afghanistan-Style : The Picture Show The box camera is really a camera and a darkroom in one (somewhat) portable package — and in Afghanistan, it's a dying medium.
NPR logo Instant Street Photography, Afghanistan-Style

Instant Street Photography, Afghanistan-Style

Austrian-born, London-schooled and now Beijing-based artist Lukas Birk has a project that needs funding: a documentary about Afghan box cameras. What's a box camera? Here's Birk to let you know:

Basically, it's a giant, light-proof, instant camera, inside of which an image is processed on the spot. By reaching through a cloth-covered hole into the box, the photographer unwraps light-sensitive photo paper and, once exposed, dips it into little tubs of developing chemicals.

The first exposure is a negative; to get a positive print, it is photographed again. The whole process takes about 10-15 minutes, which is a little longer than what you'd wait for a Polaroid — and it's a heck of a lot less portable — but you can make one of these yourself. Just don't shake it.

Learn more in the Los Angeles Times article: Afghanistan's Street Photographers Fading Away