We’re all well aware of the internet’s ability to bring together creative like-minded people from across the globe. Personally I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with numerous talented photographers who have inspired and motivated me to cultivate my own artistic abilities. One group of particularly devoted individuals existing on the fringes of the photography world, has played a huge roll in my development as a photographer. I’m of course referring to pinhole photographers, those few among us who continue to turn a blind eye to the world of digital photography choosing instead to practice their craft in the most simple of forms. Utilizing a light-proof box with a small hole in one side, which allows light to pass through exposing the film within.
Logistically unable to meet in person, one of the ways my fellow pinhole photographers and I interact is through film swaps. The talented Alex Yates has championed the movement creating a Flickr group dedicated to the process. Each participant exposes a roll of film, mailing it to the other, who then re-exposes the film a second time. No exposure details are shared, allowing for a truly unique photographic experience.
The unpredictability of cooperative double exposures are such that quite often the results are less than predictable, and quite often indecipherable. Yet thats the beauty of film swaps, it forces the photographer to release total control. Far to often photography is seen as a medium of perfection. Crystal clear, blemish free images celebrated for their perceived flawlessness. More often than not however, its the imperfections in a photograph which provides its charm and character. Pinhole film swapping flourishes in such chaos, and on those rare occasions when aspects of both photographers handy work blend seamlessly together, one can’t help but marvel at the magic of it all.
I’ve personally had the pleasure of participating in a film swap with three talented individuals to date, the already mentioned Alex Yates, Herschel Pollard, and Jesús Joglar. Currently I’m also participating in a much more ambitious project dubbed The Amazing Traveling Film Swap. 12 different pinhole photographers from around the world will use the same cardboard camera to expose two frames each, mailing it to the next participant. Half-way through its journey the film will be rewound and double exposed. Eventually the camera will make its way back to Alex Yates, the organizer, who will develop, scan, and post the resulting images online. I can’t wait to see how the photographs turn out.
If you are interested in participating in a pinhole film swap, or perhaps a Holga film swap, send me an email. I’m always interested in working with fellow photographers in such a creative way.