Sunday, July 03, 2022

The allure of photographing other worlds

pinhole photos on color film chairs and window Judith Hoffman
Pinhole photo taken with matchbox camera on color film.

While working on my web site I have been looking through pinhole photos I have taken in the past. I think I am not done with pinhole photography. 

Driveway reflection pinhole photo taken with matchbox camera by Judith Hoffman
Driveway reflection taken with matchbox pinhole camera. Wonderful distortion and light leaks.

Pinhole photography compels me. I live in this world, which is concrete all around me. At the same time, when I allow light to pass though a tiny hole I can see another world recorded on film or a piece of light sensitive paper. Although I see only a small portion of this other world, my imagination fills in the world beyond my view. It could be very different from this existing world. And yet it is related. 

photo of Trees in Golden Gate Park taken with matchbox pinhole camera by Judith Hoffman
Matchbox pinhole camera photo of Trees in Golden Gate Park. Taken near the bandstand by Judith Hoffman

These worlds overlap, the one I am in fades and the one I imagine becomes more real. There is something compelling and alluring about seeing that view, imagining another world that is connected to the world we live in. Is it a desire to make my dreams real? A need to create a world where people I love are still alive? Or the classic artist as a god? 

we are pursued by a dinosaur pinhole photo by Judith Hoffman taken with Oneiro camera
I dream we are pursued by a dinosaur. Pinhole photo taken with Oneiro handmade pinhole camera.

Setting up a diorama to photograph on my work table suggests another world too. But in that case I form the other world from my existing materials. If I set up dinosaurs and cut-out palm trees, I can create the Late Cretaceous. If I get out Christmas lights and cut out figures, I can create a dream world.

Handmade pinhole camera collection Judith Hoffman
Some of my handmade pinhole cameras. The altoids tin and matchbox cameras will give you a sense of scale. I use either color film or black and white.
Infrared pinhole camera selfie Judith Hoffman
Infrared film, pinhole camera selfie. Two heads are better than one.