The world is a wondrous and magical place plagued by the disease of familiarity. Individuals speed past amazing feats of manifested imagination, too focused on their final destination. The forest of steel and glass rising many stories above us fades into the background. Yet I find myself continually staring skyward in awe, due in large part a product of my childhood. I spent three years, from the ages of nine through twelve, living in a poorer section of Pune, India. The slums were my neighbors. I played cricket with many who called those tiny shacks home. Those memories demand me to stop and attempt to comprehend the magic surrounding us disguised as daily life.
The pinhole camera captures images that match the realized imagination that I see. The standard camera lens is replaced with a tiny hole. A lens's sharp focus and selective depth of field is traded for an infinite soft hazy focus. The dreamy qualities can be enhanced to a Van Gogh/impressionistic level or downplayed to an almost realism. Reality is converted back into a dream and captured on film.
No memory cards. No preview screen. No computer calculating the appropriate exposure. Just a manual shutter and counting seconds off in my head. Images are crafted by light and chemistry. Each roll of film is developed by hand. Ruined film is the price of lessons learned. To borrow a phrase from the great designer, Frank Chimera, pinhole photography is "the long hard stupid way" to create a beautiful image. But it's my long hard stupid way.