EToday (Russian text, translated by JDZ):
The Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy produced his own cameras from whatever parts he could find in the garbage. From that source came everything – from camera bodies to glass lenses. He was considered a mad hermit, but he did not care. Covertly, Miroslav Tichy wandered around the city in tatters and photographed women with his home-made camera. Years passed and he was “discovered” – the former tramp became a celebrity, and his pictures are now worth tens of thousands of euros and are exhibited in top galleries.
One of Tichy’s home-made cameras.
Miroslav Tichy… from the 1960s until 1985 took thousands of surreptitious pictures of women in his hometown of Kyjov in the Czech Republic, using homemade cameras constructed of cardboard tubes, tin cans and other at-hand materials. Most of his subjects were unaware they are being photographed. A few struck beauty-pageant poses when they sighted him, perhaps not realizing that the parody of a camera he carried was real.
His soft focus, fleeting glimpses of the women of Kyjov are skewed, spotted and badly printed — flawed by the limitations of his primitive equipment and a series of deliberate processing mistakes meant to add poetic imperfections.
Of his technical methods, Tichy has said, “First of all, you have to have a bad camera”, and, “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”
During the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, Tichý was considered a dissident and badly treated by the government. His photographs remained largely unknown until an exhibition was held for him in 2004.
Hat tip to Viktorija Ruškulienė.