Pinhole photography in the digital age is a stark contrast between photography’s origin and to where it is now. The origin of photography began from a dark chamber where a small pinhole on a wall emits light and projects images on the opposite side of the wall. A pinhole camera is a lensless camera that is based from the concept of a dark chamber. Through the digital age, pinhole photography has taken a new lease on life.
Sam David Felix is a Baguio resident who graduated from Small World Christian School Foundation and the Ateneo de Manila University. He went to Japan with his family because his dad, a military officer and a graduate of Philippine Military Academy, worked in the Philippine Embassy in Japan.
He has been captivated by the old fashioned way of taking pictures through his self-made handcrafted wooden pinhole cameras despite being a digital native. Though he started learning photography using a digital camera, he found his niche through pinhole photography.
Felix’s passion for pinhole photography started out of boredom. He said that he was bored one day so he googled how to make a pinhole camera. When he started pinhole photography, most of the photos he took were not quite what he expected. It has always been a process of trial and error not just in the photos he took but also in the process of creating pinhole cameras. But despite the arduous process and the frustration of not having good prints, he had friends and mentors who affirmed and encouraged him to continue his passion for pinhole photography. Then from that moment, he continued to develop pinhole cameras and experiment on pinhole photography using 135 mm film and Instax film.
“One thing I like about pinhole [photography] is that I get to commune with nature while taking pictures. It’s my way of worshipping God,” says Felix. He says that through the process of pinhole photography, he gets to slow down and take in the awesomeness of God’s wonderful creation – and that the process of waiting for his prints get developed always has an element of surprise because “you’ll never know whether you have a good photo or not.”
Through his passion for pinhole photography, he was able to create a startup business named Miru which means to see in Japanese. In the logo Miru, the dot on the letter i represents the hole in the pinhole camera. Felix creates individually handcrafted wooden pinhole cameras for those who would want to explore the old fashioned way of capturing images. Along with a camera sold is a booklet containing a little history of Miru and prototypes of Felix’s wooden pinhole cameras.
Last October, photos taken from his pinhole cameras were featured in a photo exhibit titled Escape at a café in Baguio. From Felix’s perspective, the reason why the exhibit was labeled escape is because it was his way of escaping from the digital format of photography. Photos featured in the exhibit were a mixture of nature and urban scenes taken from Baguio and Japan. He hopes that when people see his photos, it would not just be a piece of photograph hung on a wall. He wants it to become a conversational piece for people to connect as they look closely to his photos – and that through his photos, people would see the beauty of the Creator’s creation from his perspective.***-Louella Pader