History through a pinhole

Larry Holder uses pinhole photography to capture memories (Kayla Byrne/AQ)
Larry Holder uses pinhole photography to capture memories (Kayla Byrne/AQ)

Stuck to the wall is a photograph of  a forest, light streams in through the branches. The focus is a lone tree, it stands tall and determined. Plastered to its bark are thin pieces of plywood, they form a crooked ladder to an unseen destination. This place no longer exists; it was turned into a subdivision a few years back, but it remains a fond memory for photographer Larry Holder.

Holder recently launched a photo exhibit at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. From a collection of over 100 presentable pieces, he narrowed his show to 30 shots. Many of the prints are things which have been torn down and replaced by concrete creations.

“It’s sad that I can never go back there, but that’s the point of these photos. I’ll always have them,” said Holder. “I think it’s really important to remember where things came from and what things were like in the past and having an image of that can really help bring life to it. I’m interested in preserving history and this is a different kind of way to do it.”

Holder experiments with all sorts of photography, but for this selection he went for a style which is raw and uncommon. Pinhole photography absorbed Holder’s interest during his studies at NBCCD and he has been playing with the technique for the past eight years.

“I had an instructor who did pinhole photography and he got me into it. He drew me into the technique of it and I just became really interested in how simple it was and how difficult it was at the same time to actually capture an image,” said Holder.

A pinhole camera is a small light-tight can or box with a black interior and a pin-sized hole in the center of one end. It can be made out of basic materials laying around the house.

Light slowly filters into the pinhole and creates an image. It’s the basis of photography; it’s what the camera used to be.

“Basically, you’re getting a lot of unfiltered light. Light appears differently and it appears from it’s natural colour spectrum, so you get really intense colours,” said Holder.

Holder built his cameras out of 30 millimetre disposable cameras. He takes the lenses out and replaces them with pinhole covers. He prefers disposables so he can wind in his own film.

“You never know what you’re going to get with this. It’s experimental, trial and error. It’s hard to say, it’s just a really interesting process because you never know what you’re going to end up with in the end. So it’s a little bit of mystery, a little bit fun. It’s exploration,” said Holder.

Holder’s photography has taken him all throughout Fredericton, Saint John, Saint Andrews and parts of Alberta. The pieces range from dinosaur bones, nature preserves, batteries and other objects and places.

“I can take an entire roll of film and maybe only get one good shot out of it. What you see in front of you, isn’t always the image you’re going to get,” said Holder. “There’s lots of room for errors, but when you get something nice it’s always really wonderful to see how that turned out.”

Larry Holder’s “Point of Light” exhibit will be displayed until Dec. 5 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.

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