It may not be a Leica and it’s a bit on the rudimentary side, but the Campbell’s soup can shown above was actually used by photographer Julie Schachter to shoot the synergetic “100 Andies: The Soup Can’s Revenge,” right, a silver gelatin print from 1976.
It’s also a creative example of how pinhole photography has been employed since its conceptual inception dating back thousands of years.
Pinhole photographs are usually created with a self-made camera that lacks a lens and which has a single tiny aperture (or pinhole) that processes outside light into a lightproof can or box. The art of what’s often called “camera obscura” is celebrated in a new book, Poetics of Light: Contemporary Pinhole Photography, by Nancy Spencer and Eric Renner. The husband and wife team donated a treasure trove of images to the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, where more than 200 photographs and dozens of examples of pinhole cameras are on display through next year.
A sense of the mysterious and preternatural pervades many of the pieces, and “Ticul Schoolyard, Ticul, Mexico,” below, taken by Renner himself in 1968, captures some of that ghostly feeling. (The lack of sharpness that characterizes pinhole photography is often one of its most artistic elements.)
(Photos top and middle: Julie Schachter /New Mexico History Museum; bottom: Eric Renner/New Mexico History Museum)