About the Photographs

These photographs were made, based on a principle of optics which states that an object illuminated in a dark room will send its reversed image through an aperature onto a piece of white paper. These images might be described as box camera pictures (the room is the box) rather than pinhole pictures because a magnifying glass was used as a lens and a pinhole camera, by definition, uses no lens.

Some of these photographs were taken of friends who happened to drop by my studio and others were taken during a beginning photography class that I taught at City College of New York. I was teaching Ceramics at C.C.N.Y. and when I was suddenly asked to teach photography, I hardly knew much more than my students so I decided that we would learn about photography together.

These images were made without a camera as we know it; however, they were made by being inside of a camera because the entire room was transformed into a box camera. These are communal portraits because they were made by everyone collectively. In a way, the pictures made themselves.

The tension captured in these images might be attributed to the exhaustion of all the participants because each time we were setting up lights, stands, paper in an hot darkroom with no ventilation and just when everyone was losing faith and asking me if they could leave now because this was never going to work, an image would magically appear on the white paper in full color, upside down.

During our first attempt, we had a problem with the paper fogging from excessive ambient light and a student suggested that if we could build a box around the apparatus it would solve the problem...he then realized that he had just invented the camera.