Square One

This is it...the start, the beginning, square one of, well the ultimate square one. The start of twelve is close now. The photographers are ready, the profiles are up and more importantly the A12 back is on it's way to Norway ready for the first shot.

So where did this all begin? Well let's go right back to the start.....1841. This was the year when the Hasselblad family established a company (F.W Hasselblad & Co.) in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company soon established itself as a prosperous trading house, importing and exporting various goods. Arvid Hasselblad, Son of the founder, established a photographic division and is reported to have said “I certainly don’t think that we will earn much money on this, but at least it will allow us to take pictures for free.”

Whilst on honeymoon in England, Arvid met George Eastman (the founder of Kodak) and formed a business partnership.  The photographic division of the company grew so rapidly that in 1908 the family formed a separate firm to deal with the increased business. This firm, Hasselblad’s Fotografiska AB, was the exclusive Swedish distributor for what was now EastmanKodak products.

Realising how much the company had benefitted from photography the great grandson of the founder, Victor Hasselblad was taken out of school and sent to Dresden in Germany to study optics. Victor then spent the next few years travelling the globe meeting great photographers through his families and Kodak’s contacts. In 1937 Victor and his wife opened a successful photographic shop in Gothenburg and the shop, complete with lab was a great success.

1939 saw the outbreak of war, Scandinavian countries prompted the mobilisation of the unprepared Swedish Army. By the 1940’s Germany was within touching distance, several planes were shot down over Swedish air space. Most ruined, however one came down with its precious cargo intact, a German made surveillance camera. Understanding this camera and how it was made was deemed key to the war effort and the military turned to Victor Hasselblad for help.

Victor was asked to reproduce an identical camera to the one found on the shot down plane. Legend has it that Victor said “No but I can make a better one”.  Gathering parts from a nearby junkyard and working with his brother they started reverse engineering the German camera and designing what would be the very first Hasselblad camera, the HK7.

The HK7 was a 7x9 format camera using 80mm film and had two interchangeable lenses, a Zeiss Biotessar and either a Meyer Tele-Megor or a Schneider Tele-Xenar. The military were impressed and Hasselblad produced 342 cameras between 1941-1945. Once the war ended, Victor turned his team’s full focus onto the job of producing this new style of consumer camera. And on October 6, 1948 Victor introduced the world to the first Hasselblad produced consumer camera, the Hasselblad 1600F.

In 1957 Hasselblad followed the success of his first cameras with a new revolutionary product, the Hasselblad 500C. This sensational camera had lenses with a central leaf shutters and flash synch on all shutter speeds. Then came the Hasselblad SWA in 1954, followed by the wide angle Hasselblad SWC (1957), and the motor operated Hasselblad 500 EL (1965). The basic philosophy behind the system – its modularity, versatility, and reliability – has guided the Hasselblad product line for over fifty years. 

Which brings us to today. Let's start with a quick reminder of what twelve is. Quite simply, twelve photographers, will shoot twelve shots, on one roll of film. As you can see from the history, the versatility of this camera allows you to swap film backs in between shots, the idea being that you can interchange between colour and black & white or different film types mid shoot. We plan to use this versatility to create something unique. A roll of film shot by twelve different people across 4 countries. That's correct.....one shot each....no pressure.

We will shoot with Portra 400 and the only influence to what people shoot will be the overarching theme, which is simply, 'Home'. With the diversity of the photographers (Fine Art, Wedding, Landscape, Travel, Architectural, Portrait to name a few) we wanted a theme that didn't strangle the creativity of the individual, which we believe is critical to the success of the final product.

We have had some great support over the last few weeks as the website and the profiles have been updated and wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone who is following the story so far and also wanted to share the exciting news that the film back is due to be in Norway sometime this week in preparation for the first shot by Atle....good luck..!

There will be some exciting and regular features as the film travels round the twelve photographers, so keep watching the site and our twitter feed for more information.

Thanks again and look forward to sharing more information soon.

The Twelve Collective.