The Spirit of Pinhole Photography

Like a lot of people, I learned about pinhole photography in college, in a basic photography course. For me, that was in 1972. Some pinhole evangelists (from Georgia I believe) were travelling through and showed us their cameras and photos they had made. I think most of us were pretty amazed at what they were doing.

After listening to our pinhole visitors discuss the medium, our instructor handed out instruction sheets for us to make our own pinhole cameras for the next class. We did (shown here is my first camera), and then we made our first images. We wandered around campus, placing these little boxes on the ground, opening up the shutters and then watching them soak up the light rays. Most of us weren’t satisfied with out first or second negative and kept going back to try it again. It was a lot of fun for the class. The next week the class moved on to learning about how our 35mm cameras worked and how to develop film and make prints. But I kept on just couldn’t get enough of the pinhole camera. That began what has turned out to be my life-long involvement with pinhole photography.

my first pinhole camera

A question that is often asked is “why pinhole?”. Over the last 30 years or so, this question has been the subject (either overtly or implied) of numerous discussions and exhibitions of pinhole photographs. Pinhole photography holds a fascination for a lot of people, and more and more people seem to be giving it try, to see what its all about.

There must be some good reasons I have continued to experiment with the pinhole for 30 some years. At least I hope so. I intend to use these pages to explore what some of these good reasons might be. I plan to add occasional postings on the subject of “the spirit of pinhole photography” as they come to mind.

5 thoughts on “The Spirit of Pinhole Photography

  1. Hey Gregg! I really enjoy looking at your site and reading what you have written about pinhole photograhpy. I am a 17 year old kid from Wisconsin who has been in love with photography since I first picked up a camera when I was 6 years old. I was amazed that something in my hands could freeze time for an instant and keep that moment recorded on a piece of plastic. It was magic to me. I was wondering how to build a decent pinhole camera at a low cost. Please keep in mind I don’t have a lot to spend on this project, I was also looking into starting a darkroom in our basement. You can contact me on AIM – L1FEinDarkness or Email me at – L1FEinDarkness@hotmail.com

  2. Hi,gregg. I am going to be 13 and i like to learn something related to photography. Is the pinhole camera same as a normal camera? I read in a book that pinhole camera can make you see an upside down image of the object. My email is toh152@hotmail.com. Tell me more about cameras! i love photography!

  3. Hi, I’m 13 and took a pinhole camera class when I was 10. They were so much fun, and now I want to try it again. I don’t have a dark room, but I do have a small, cramped mud room that could be converted. Is it dangerous to have such chemicals in such a small place? it’s not ventilated well. And are the materials expensive? Please respond, thank you.

  4. Right, 10 was such a long time ago when you’re 13. My advice is to ask your parents this question. I used a closet as a darkroom for many years and now I have cancer. Who’s to say?

    The materials are very expensive if you live in Haiti and have no money. They are cheap if you live in the US and have money. You decide.

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