I grew up capturing my world on film. My parents gave me a Pentax Programme A for Christmas when I was 12 and I put a lot of film through it. I learnt to develop what I’d captured with the help of a teacher who let me convert one of the geography cupboards into a darkroom. I even helped publish the short-lived school newspaper. I wrote articles, created artwork and printed my photographs which were poorly reproduced in a photocopied format for the final print run. It had a limited reach but it felt great at the time.
The Pentax was much loved and much used through school and College until it finally collapsed whilst covering yet another student gig in 1999. I was distraught when I couldn’t fix it and even more so when the guy in the camera repair shop eyed it with such contempt before telling me it wasn’t worth fixing. It was my first SLR and it was gone, replaced by what I felt was an inferior Olympus OM10 and a Pentax MZ-50, until I finally jumped across to Digital in 2002 when I took up photography professionally.
In early 2015, 13 years after taking up a digital camera (back then it was the Nikon D1 and D1h), I felt the urge to re-engage with photography in its most basic form. My grand plan was to build a pinhole camera. From this initial idea, I drew up numerous sketches and designs, toying with the idea of working in a panoramic format. Hitting the internet to see what already existed I came across the Ondu 135 panoramic pinhole, a beautiful little camera which can work in a 35mm format or, with a quick reconfiguration, switch to a panoramic format producing images 72mm wide.
Two years on and I’m still having fun creating images with this little work of art. Several of my prints from this project have appeared in exhibitions across the South of England but I wanted a way to record my workings and share what I’d created more widely. Having thought about a separate blog I decided on a tumblr account as an outlet for my images. Once a week I post an image with a few basic details on its location and how it was captured. My plan is to continue with the project for as long as possible, seeing where it leads and how it develops. I will make my own pinhole camera one day, but for now I’m happy to let the Ondu do the hard work for me as I reconnect with a simpler way of working.
I still have the Pentax in the loft and I’m sorry to say that I agree with the camera guy. It isn’t worth fixing but that doesn’t mean I’ll be throwing it out.
My tumblr: Adventures in Pinhole Photography