This was my final project for my Bachelor's of Fine Art degree. It was displayed on campus of Brigham Young University - Idaho from December 9, 2010 to December 18, 2010.
We Did Not Invent This
I am amazed at the struggles and difficulties many early photographers went through to produce a single image. They carried wagonloads of equipment and delicate instruments to capture the events of the day. With today’s technology, we can take hundreds of images in one sitting using the latest and greatest gadgets to make our images perfect. Though they seem worlds apart, both of these methods can be reduced to the simple principle of light passing through a tiny hole and being projected into the camera. A basic pinhole camera is made out of a light-tight canister with a pinhole in one side. The sensitized paper or film is then placed inside and exposed through the tiny hole. Even the most extraordinary DSLR is just a fancy “pinhole” camera. Through my pinhole project, I learned the value of creating one good image and how simple photography can really be.
The subject matter of my project focused on technology. Technology has become an ever-present necessity in our world today. Everywhere we look there are telephone lines, cell phone towers, or satellite dishes standing out from the landscape around them. They are so common that we often don’t notice them until we look for them. My images aren’t meant to discredit technology or criticize its presence, but to show it as something magnificent and necessary to our everyday lives.
Photography in its simplest form is a light proof box with a tiny hole in one side. The outside view travels through the hole and a reversed image is projected on the other side. This phenomenon is a natural curiosity and can be observed in many other situations around us. Aristotle observed it through the gaps in the leaves of trees and our eyes work in the very same way. Today’s most sophisticated cameras are complex versions of this simple principle. My project explored the process of hand-building a camera and crafting images. I went back to the origins of photography and create images with only the basics, a light proof box and a pinhole.
The cameras I have built, like most pinhole cameras, are unpredictable. Careless craftsmanship or lack of attention often leads to overexposed images, light leaks, or countless other problems. Figuring out the different exposure times took practice and hours of trial and error. Most of the cameras don’t have any type of viewfinder so composing the image while on location was practically impossible. The majority of the cameras only hold one piece of photo paper so after each exposure I had to return home or to the photo lab to develop it before I could reload the camera. Then I would determine if I had a well-composed image or if I should return to take another exposure. These images are beautiful, not because they are composed well or because they have a perfect exposure, but because of the time and effort that was put into learning the process.
Digital SLR Pinhole
Ovaltine Can Pinhole
Oatmeal Can Pinhole (My Favorite!)
Green Canister with Multiple Pinholes
4x5 Medium Format Pinhole
Hollow Book Pinhole