The pinhole photography diary project
The images here are selected from Terra Poirier’s pinhole photography diary project, for which Poirier photographed her daily routine for three weeks using a pinhole camera, similar to how one might keep a written diary. Pinhole cameras—much like the first cameras of the nineteenth century—require long exposure times, minutes or even hours; anything that moves in the frame is blurred or erased entirely. For one of the photos featured here, Poirier photographed a forty-five-minute long haircut session: Poirier can be seen sitting in a chair; her stylist, who moved around, is missing from the photo. In other photos, crowded spaces—costco, Value Village, a diner, the dentist’s office—appear empty. “Most people don’t seem to register that I’m taking a photograph. I’ll set up my little tripod, get down on the ground to adjust the angle and release the shutter, and then I have to hang around while the film is exposed,” Poirier says. “I’m always thinking about whether I’ll get asked to move by security.”
Pinhole photographs, she writes, are unreliable in the same way diaries are: both record and distort moments and leave a selective record of events. Poirier uses this slow form of photography in the age when hundreds of billions of photographs are generated every year using smartphones. During her three-week project Poirier captured 72 exposures. April 26 is National Pinhole Photography Day.
Terra Poirier is a photographer who lives in Vancouver and at terrapoirier.ca.