The World Upside Down Kickstarter Project


Project Statement and Purpose:

My name is Lee Smathers. I'm an American expat photography professor teaching in Daegu, South Korea. Every time I go to a festival or nearly ever place I go in Korea, I see people with their newest and badest DSLRs. Straight down to the lenses. The photography hobbyists here go nuts with their gear. If I'm doing street photography, I usually travel around with my M6 or Rolleiflex. People often ask me why I'm still shooting film, but they seem to be envious of my cameras ((Don't they realize my cameras are 30-50 years old and can be had for a fraction of the newest DSLR body that's in their hands??)). When I go to the mountains, I'm usually taking my great grandfather's 4x5 Speed Graphic or my recently self-restored 5x7 Eastman Kodak 2-D. (The details of that camera's restoration are now under the update on my Kickstarter page, if you're interested). I hear people calling my 4x5 Speed Graphic a Hasselblad or a Leica.

I'm here to educate and influence.

By the time my first year photography students come to my classes, they hate the darkroom. I thought to myself, how can I get my students interested in traditional photography? Well I began to teach my students how to develop film in coffee and using Diafine. Both of these developers are very unique. First we mixed caffenol and the aroma of the coffee really pleased the students. The usage of water instead of a stop bath and finally looking at perfectly developed images, amazed my students. In another class, 15 students processed their different films with Diafine one after another in an assembly line, using only 500 ml.

During Spring semester of this year, I photographed all 55 of my students using an old 8x10 wooden camera and x-ray film. They had never had their portrait taken with an 8x10 camera before - hell, neither had I and I was a photography student for 7 years and have been practicing photography for over 20 years now.

I'm using the same 8x10 camera to document the Daegu monorail now. There was a documentary on my life and work on South Korean TV a few days ago, please check on this link to watch it (I apologize it's in Korean, but we are looking to get English subtitles before the end of my Kickstarter or shortly after - befriend me on Facebook or support my Kickstarter and it will be an update later). There are a few scenes of me working on the monorail:

All of this has been experimentation (checking my lenses, practicing developing large format films in color and B+W, scanning, and even finding out which films I like) to lead me to the next project:

I'm seeking to pursue a project using color negative film in my 110 year-old 7x17 inch ultra large format camera. 7x17 inch color film is impossible to purchase without a special order direct from Kodak Alaris because it is not a common size. However Kodak Alaris will cut film to my specifications if I place a minimum order with them. My $20,000 USD goal will help to ensure Kodak's minimum $15,000 USD special order (import taxes and shipping included to South Korea) and fund the distribution of rewards to my supporters.

Please help me to keep film photography alive in South Korea. If I'm not shooting film and enthusiastic about it, it matters. I have a major influence on students being an educator. One student has since bought an 8x10 camera and others are interested in getting a 4x5 camera.

Rewards are on my Kickstarter are given for even the smallest pledge, but all are images are made with film photography. I will answer your questions about any of the rewards or my statement and purpose. Please contact me via my email: or friend me on Facebook:

The duration of my Kickstarter is until December 15th. Please think about how you can support.

Thanks in advance for helping to get the word out!
Lee Smathers