by Bethany de Forest
25 Years of Pinhole Photography
With a career spanning 25 years, the time was ripe for Bethany de Forest to compile a retrospective of her photographic oeuvre. Her selection is presented by KochxBos Publishers in this volume in 140 full-colour photo pages. De Forest photographs with pinhole cameras: instead of an objective lens these have a minuscule hole (i.e. a pinhole) through which the image is projected onto photosensitive material.
In the foreword, art historian and contemporary art restorer Sanneke Stigter notes, “It’s like being in Alice’s Wonderland... Look closer and you’ll discover all kinds of surprises: pollard willows made of rhubarb stalks, sugar cubes masquerading as marble blocks, and raw ham as marbled stone in a cathedral with stained-meat windows.”
Leafing through the book is like a journey through fairytale settings and surreal scenery. Lifesize insects and enormous flowers in exuberant landscapes are interspersed with interiors in which spaces continue on for ever and walls are made of meat. In worlds which often appear absurd, De Forest invariably finds a place for humour and an aside to the viewer.
It is all photography. Nothing is manipulated, painted or photoshopped. Pinhole photography is quite different from the perfect world of modern digital photography. The out-of-focus vignetting and the colour tones lend a sense of alienation.
De Forest prefers pinhole because it enables her to capture emotion and feeling. Pinhole camera is also a camera which fits her world: literally so, since the pinhole camera - sometimes no larger than a matchbox - is easy to place in a relatively small setting or model, so that it feels like you are actually standing inside.
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