The Geek Portraits

30th Chaos Communication Congress

'The Geek Portraits' is an ongoing project to document the humans behind the hackerspaces movement. There have been a few installments of this project in the past mostly focusing on people in and around metalab (a hackerspace in Vienna, Austria). In contrast, the images you find on this site where created at 30c3, the latest in the series of the yearly Chaos Communications Congress, a hacker conference held in Germany. The event is visited by a wide range of people from all over the world of whom you find a tiny cross section in these photographs.

the camera

In the spirit of diy the camera used to make these pictures is a 4x5 inch large format camera built mostly from scratch by a handful of people from metalab and myself. We call it the MHC or Modestly Huge Camera and what you see here is the third iteration of our design. The entire camera is designed to be as simple to build as possible. Most parts of the camera are made of lasercut plywood. A noteable exception to this are the bellows, wich are constructed out of cartboard and linen (on the edges). The focusing rail on the bottom is pre-made and connects to the camera via two small standard tripod heads. We have not managed to build our own lens yet, but large format lenses are readily (and affordably) available on the used market.

the process

To use the MHC in a setting like a congress where no darkroom or processing equitment is available we created an instant film back for the camera that takes either Fuji FP-3000b (which is sadly beeing discontinued) for black and white prints or Fujie FP-100c (which remains avaiable for the forseeable future) for color prints. The film used for all the images you can see on this page where shot using FP-3000b. The film yields a positive print and a negative which is usually thrown away. Since most of the positives where handed out to the people photographed I dried the negatives and scanned them back home. The resulting image, after some final adjustment, gives a bit of a different look than the print. The tonal range is larger and some of the images have a solarisation effect to them while others look more normal.

the images

Who made this?

Most people call me Emi.
I build software, cameras and do a lot of photography. You may find my (photo) blog over at or you may follow me on twitter where I'm @michaelem.