I’ve recently been enjoying Sally Eauclaire’s 1981 book The New Color Photography. Many critics agree that color photography didn’t really come of age as an art form until around 1970. A little more about the book from the introduction:
The New Color Photography is not a survey, nor a history of color photography of the 1970s, but a critical text that argues for and endeavors to articulate visual and conceptual standards.
A large percentage of the images in the book are fantastic, and the text is quite thought provoking. I was quite interested to read the artist bios in the back of the book, many of which list the camera and film preferences of the photographers. A large percentage of these folks were shooting with 4×5 view cameras, a few 5×7 and 8×10 view cameras, a little bit of medium format, the Polaroid SX-70, and a couple of Leicas and Nikons.
It is a hand made, hand held 6x9cm camera built in Brooklyn, New York by Tom Germano. It takes both 120 and 220 roll film and houses a 65mm (wide angle) Mamiya f/6.3 lens. The camera is simple — a roll film back and a 4×5 inch press camera lens adapter for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches. There are no mirrors, no meters, no timers, or even a rangefinder. It is sleek and fast for the format and enables me to stalk and maneuver as if I were using a Leica. And because of the larger negative, my prints give me sharp definition and little grain at 13 x 19 inches.
So what ever happened to the Siciliano camera? A Google search didn’t turn up much info. The design site of Cliff Goldthwaite shows a few images, and reports that his camera was built with a 75m lens in an edition of 50 in the late 1970s. Duncan McCosker, an art professor in San Diego, uses a Siciliano.
Thomas Roma, the fellow who built and sold these cameras in the 1970s, went on to put out a few photography books and has been a photography professor since 1983. Not sure why the name is listed as Germano in the bio quoted above. I found a really great article about Roma on ARTnews:
He went on to set up the Siciliano Camera Works, selling the 6-by-9 and a handheld panoramic 35-millimeter he designed (“Good photographers wanted them—Koudelka, Peress, Friedlander,” says Roma), but his head for business was not as keen as his eye.
That’s about all I could find. No photos of the camera. I wonder if Mr. Roma gets email inquiries from camera buffs and historians about these cameras? I’d love to know a little bit more about them.
Update 10/12/2011: One of these cameras was apparently for sale on a Norwegian website, and there’s a photo of the camera Rangefinderforum.