Back in 1997, I was lucky enough to be in school. The photo critic A.D. Coleman came by and gave a talk: he said something to the effect that "in ten years the only ones using film will be willful dinosaurs." Willful dinosaurs. I thought it was a good phrase. I didn’t really mind being one. Back then, I was wandering the streets of Philadelphia with a 2x3 press camera and a really old lens, attempting some version of Atget. Pretty much a willful dinosaur. A couple years later, I found my way to pinhole through thinking about camera design. I was looking at panoramic photos taken by Josef Sudek, and I wanted to try that. Not having an eighty-year-old Kodak, I figured designing my own camera might let me come close to what I was looking for.
Still using that old baby view camera, I started a new project in the summer of 2000. I took my first 120 pinhole camera along almost as a lark - but once I was back home, the pinhole images interested me more than the lens-made ones. I decided maybe I didn't need lenses anymore.
Skip ahead a dozen years: I recently heard, second hand, someone’s reaction to my making pinhole cameras: "Why go back to the stone age?" I could make almost the same photographs using a digital camera and some not terribly complicated post processing in photoshop. Why not do that?
As long ago as 1872, Edweard Muybridge used photography to show things that happened too fast to be seen any other way. Today we don't lack for technologies that can expose otherwise invisible things. But they aren't all complicated. Pinhole photographs still reveal a different reality, one that we don't usually take the time to see. It’s a bit much anymore to think that photographs show truth, but I still like the direct connection to a specific time and place that is recorded on the emulsion when I use film.