Mary Agnes Williams

Artist Statement

The process of pinhole photography appeals to me because it is simple and direct, but can yield complex images. Many of my pinhole photographs feature buildings or architectural elements that take on a dreamy look, as if the structures were emerging from, or about to enter, another time and place. The pinhole process allows me to explore this kind of tension and ambiguity.

Many of my images need long exposure times. For me, the moments between exposing the pinhole to light and covering it over again feel like a time apart from the normal forward march of the clock. I often sense a strong congruency between what the camera sees, what I see, and what is being seen.

I began taking pinhole photos nearly ten years ago with a tiny camera that used 110 film. The decidedly unprofessional-looking camera appeared very silly atop a tripod, but as I learned more about the ancient pinhole process, the little box captured several images of striking beauty. I became intrigued by the challenge of making photos with such a low-tech instrument: no viewfinder, no automatic timer, no lens.

I soon graduated to other pinhole cameras. In the time-honored tradition of pinholers, two of my cameras were homemade. A 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 was fashioned from plastic plumbing materials and miscellaneous metal hardware; my 35mm camera used a discarded Minolta back. I also purchased a wooden 4x5-format camera from Pinhole Resource in New Mexico.

In the spring of 2001, Renee Creager O'Brien included several of my photographs in an exhibition in Queensbury, NY that was devoted entirely to pinhole photographs from around the world.

Mary Agnes Williams
October 2001

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