Peter Caronia.

Peter’s work is breathtaking. It is undeniably stunning. I have never seen such extraordinary representation of colour - let alone that which has been captured using a pinhole camera.

He has a spectacular way of allowing us to forget that even he, as the photographer, is present in the image. Within his photography, we are the only beings present as he manages to isolate each of his audience and convince them that it would be impossible for anyone else to exist within that world other than them.

By comparison to a lot of other pinhole photography, his photographs are very factual. Each location, combined with the impeccable clarity of what he chooses to photograph, is incredibly immersive. I find my gaze immovable as my mind attempts to absorb as much detail as possible.

I have driveled on enough. Please explore Peter’s photographic mind over at his website - www.petergcaronia.com - and please do take the time to read through the words below he has so kindly spent the time writing for us.

“In 2003 I bought a Zero 45 pinhole camera.  I started shooting and storing the images archaically until 2015 when I began the process of scanning and posting images.  The process of making images is as important as the image itself.  I am a traveler and an explorer and I love having a record of those travels via pinhole photos.”   

In your own words, what do you do?

I will see an environment that makes certain gears click into place and I feel an uncontrollable urge to capture it, particularly using camera obscura.    

Why do you do what you do?

I have always made images my entire life.  When I started to shoot pinholes in 2003, the results were exciting and encouraged me to make more, after 2006, it became an obsession.

What is integral to your practice?

Trying to become as educated as I can about the locations I photograph.  I don’t just want to make an image and move on – if I can – I want to learn as much about the area as possible.  

Why pinhole?

I fell in love with the Zero Image 4x5 system because it seems so perfectly matched with the practice of slowing down, concentrating on one single frame.  

I make a living as a cinematic camera assistant and in that world, before switching to digital, we used to expose 20-30,000 feet of film – if not more – on any giving shooting day. The contrast from that world to making images using pinhole cameras is so totally opposite it is  therapeutic for me to shoot.  Image making is very important to me and I’ve created a positive world where I can be in control, while relinquishing it at the same time, due to the nature of camera obscura.  That alone is a huge contrast to my everyday life, where the image making process is part of a team effort, in a very controlled manner, with a lot of moving parts.  

The images I make feel like they eclipse the work I do in real life and it only takes one frame for me to be reminded of that.

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?

At first making pinholes was a past time between snowboarding and surfing.  I was already traveling to remote places, so it was natural to shoot during down moments.  But then slowly little by little, the need to shoot was as strong as the need to be in the ocean or riding a mountain.  Now the escape provide by each of these is equal in my mind.  The themes developed because of those trips have remained a constant – the ocean and the mountains - I cannot photograph each enough.

Has your practice change over time? If so, how?

I am looking at the world a little differently now, I notice more details - particularly when I revisit a place I’ve once shot.  I find that I am open to witness things I might have ignored in the past.  Once I got into the practice of making photos, I started trying to see beyond the obvious.  

Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? If so, why?

There is one shot in particular that really brought me into the pinhole world and I call it “Kim’s Raft”, it’s the only image I have formally named.  A friend’s family member made a swim platform in Lake Michigan.  Arriving at night, we made camp on the shore, I was told that Kim’s platform was out there, but couldn’t see it. I woke up the next morning took one look and grabbed my cameras.  I printed the image and sent it to my friends - the day it arrived, by chance, was the anniversary of his Kim’s death.  From then on, I knew I had found a camera system that peaked my interest and never looked back.

From whom do you draw the most inspiration?

Inspiration comes from witnessing others owning whatever it is that they are doing.  I love to see someone lay it all on the line for anything – music, sports or the arts etc… When someone has put their life and soul into a moment, I appreciate it and I get inspired by seeing that – it makes me want to put 110% of my effort into my own projects.  

What is your dream project?

A dream project would be to live 3 months at a time anywhere just to make images.  In that amount of time, I can slip into an existing culture and really get the vibe.  Learn how the locals operate, live in the moment, see the changes around a new place as they occur daily.  It is then I notice subtleties that are screaming to me to be photographed.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Someone in college once gave me a quote by Vince Lombardi:  The quality of one’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.  To me, this means to always try, to never give up, even during the unpleasant stages of life, because if you continue to try to do your best, only good things can come.


Dan @ The Pinhole Society

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