Gypsy Cameras: 1960s Underwater Cameras Are Being Shot and Shipped Around the World for a Global Scrapbook of Surfing

by Owen James Burke

Surfer at Tai Long Wan: Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong, 2012

Tai Long Wan Bei, Hong Kong, 2012 (Photo: Stephen Milner)

One of the first widely available underwater cameras, the Nikonos was co-invented in 1963 with the help of none other than Jacques Yves Cousteau. These 35mm film cameras are no longer manufactured, but they can be found for as little as $100 on eBay, and this is where mastermind Brandon Jennings got the idea to buy as many as he could find and ship them around the world. Why? He’s only building what may become the most eclectic surfing scrapbook in history.

Mar Cubillos on tx400 Rockaway beach, NY. August 2014

Rockaway Beach, NY, August 2014 (Photo: Brigid Lally)

How can you get involved? All you have to do is sign up and promise that after you’re done, you’ll send it on to the next person down the list, wherever they may be.


Wailupe Beach, Oahu, HI, April 2014 (Photo: Erik Oseto)

So far, Jennings has amassed about 100 cameras, but he’s got 700 people on his waiting list, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind a tip if you happen to know of any for sale (contact him here).

Read more on Lightbox, and keep an eye out for updates on the Nikonos Project Blog — OB

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