After every photography shoot, whether it’s a one hour walk through my town or a long product shoot, I enjoy the time immediately following it to reflect on what I’ve seen and photographed. I go over the images in my head thinking about how I’ll be working on them, excited for the darkroom if film has been use.
As I write this sitting in the Krakow airport, with an hour to think about what has just happened, there is something different going on. I’m returning home after spending 5 days in Oświęcim, staying directly across the street from the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp and a very short distance from the Auschwitz II–Birkenau extermination, or death, camp. This trip has been like a slap across my face meant to wake me up about life and death, love and hate, and how my own actions, or inactions, have consequences over what can happen.
I came here with the intention of making photographs of these two camps, with a lifelong friend who joined me for 3 of my 5 days here. As the time grew shorter before this trip I started to have reservations. I over saturated myself with information about these places right before my trip and began to question the validity of my reason to come here. After all, who am I to try to make images of these places without a reason fitting of what happened. How would my photographs be different than the 1000’s that have been clicked…and what was I trying to accomplish.
I’m Marching… – These wooden cards were left by visitors on the track that brought new arrivals to Auschwitz I.
Upon arriving I found myself alone, in the hotel room, seeing the entrance to Auschwitz I from my window, and I was shaking. It was late afternoon and I forced myself to go out and begin my exploration. My friend was arriving the following midday so I took this time alone to try and understand why I was here.
People come to hobbies in many different ways, maybe from a love of doing something well, to interact with other like-minded folks, or just to have fun. I think all three reasons are why I am drawn to photography, and in particular the Kodak Brownie camera.
by Christopher Hosford
Like many people—millions, in fact—our family had album after album of snapshots, and since we were definitely not wealthy I’m sure the pictures were taken with inexpensive Brownies. The last of my family’s true versions was a Brownie Flash Six-20, the little trapezoidal box camera made of metal, that emits a resounding “clunk” when you fire the shutter, and a ratcheting stutter when you advance the film. This is definitely not a spy camera, where you sneak up on somebody! Well, feeling nostalgic one day I found one on eBay and bought it for $6—its original 1946 price.
by Christopher Hosford
Recently I bought a Six-20 Brownie Model D, made in England, and a yellow filter for it as well. I’ve also acquired a Yashica twin-lens reflex camera, to expand my knowledge of focus, exposure, shutter speed, and a wider range of filters. At times I’ll shoot the same subject with both cameras, to see how the Brownie measures up. And it does darn well.
I should stress that “good” photography is an uncertain thing, and differs from person to person. And with Brownies, virtually the only things I have control over are composition and choice of film. But this extreme restriction has honed my attention. I watch the weather, check out the light and its brightness and direction, and the area of interest I want to show in my picture. Many times as I wander in the countryside, the city, or a park with my camera, I’ll actively seek out subjects. I’ll examine the framing, the foreground and background, the central “idea,” the pattern of shadow and shade, and (always) the slant and intensity of sunlight. I’ll examine things through the viewfinder to see if I actually want to remember that scene via a photo … but then often decide that I don’t.
by Christopher Hosford
Even though I’m trying to make photos I can be proud of, I’m also aware that the Brownie was not invented as an artist’s tool. I have to keep reminding myself of that, get a little off my high horse, and actually take pictures of family and friends to capture that “Kodak moment.” Recently in the park, I got my neighbors and their new little dog together on a tree bench, and took some color photos of them, using the Model D. They were fascinated by the “funny” camera—my Brownie was no longer a picture-taking machine; it had become an event!—and they were laughing and joyful as the little dog wiggled and played. I’m realizing this little hobby of mine is providing me more enjoyment than I anticipated. I sure hope the photos turn out well.
From Chuck: Christopher started and moderates the Facebook group “Kodak Brownie Fans“. This group is growing and has already become a go-to place for Brownie information and images. Christopher has been a wonderful addition to the photography world on the internet and I am glad he’s out there doing his thing. Thank you, Christopher!
I love this time of year. The days are getting longer, the air is fresher, and winter is over! I enjoy the signs of warmer weather coming like the first trees budding and crocus blooming and that Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is about ready to happen.
I have been taking pinhole images since I was a boy and am still amazed at the simplicity of the process and grateful for what it has taught me about photography. Imaging isn’t always about the most in-focus or perfectly exposed print. Simple equipment can free us up from the technical, so that seeing becomes paramount, helping our overall view of the world.
My arsenal of film, paper and digital pinhole cameras get used regularly but shooting on WWPD is special. I get excited like a kid getting an ice cream or going to the carnival. When the day begins I almost can’t wait to post my image on the website and see what others have posted. Many are absolutely breathtaking and all show the photographer’s effort and excitement!
Looking towards Nijmegen from Lent, Netherlands. The camera is a 35mm film canister with a hole cut out and a piece of aluminum foil taped over it. The hole was made with a pin! The film was wrapped completely inside the canister carefully not covering the hole. Tape served as the shutter. Taken by Chuck Baker
Join the fun! There are many online tutorials about making a pinhole camera and sources for cameras already made for purchase.
The folks behind Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Actually, I’ve never met a pinholer that I didn’t like! They say: “Anyone, anywhere in the world, who makes a pinhole photograph on the last Sunday in April, can scan it and upload it to this website where it will become part of the annual Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day celebration’s online gallery.” How cool is that!!!
If you’re reading this chances are you’ve found a great camera and just found out that it uses “obsolete” 620 film. All is not lost! 120 and 620 film is exactly the same size, and because of that, you can easily respool any available 120 film onto a 620 spool and use your 620 camera…without it jamming….and saving yourself alot of money!
I realize that there are many sources that state “just file down the spool and it will fit” and “you can get 120 film through some 620 cameras”. These statements are somewhat true however the only real way to make sure your camera is not going to jam because of an incorrect spool being used is by properly respooling. But for me, this isn’t my only reason to promote respooling.
When someone who just got their camera, possibly disappointed to find out that the film is not available, finds a “120 will work just fine” suggestion…the roll jams, it turns into a mess, and that person loses interest in film photography before they even start.
Additionally, for those of us who shoot a lot of film, there’s a satisfaction and closeness that is attached with recreating what the camera was designed to use. It makes me feel more in tune with the equipment and with the images being captured.
But I think just as important, it is what the camera was designed to use and when using respooled film, my attention is focused on image taking and not on jammed film, or the possibility of jamming.
Below you’ll find a video and images with instructions.