Taking Pinhole Portraits of ‘Lockdown Street Bingo’ for World Pinhole Day

Working as an analogue photographer at Little Vintage Photography, Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (#WPPD) is something that I love taking part in every year. Sadly with lockdown happening, the workshops and photowalks I’d normally run were of course, put on hold.

In such strange times and with many aspects of life and lockdown already forcing us to slow down, pinhole and analogue photography actually seemed to be the perfect way of capturing our world and a unique opportunity to record a slice of social history.

I was lucky enough to be sent a an ONDU pinhole camera as a surprise by Elvis and Jessi who are based in Slovenia and which arrived, out of the blue, the day before WPPD!

Our neighbours had put a note through our letterbox that morning to say that they were going to be running ‘Street Bingo’ the following day to raise everyone’s spirits. They asked anyone who wanted to take part to be at their front doors, and they’d call out numbers through a megaphone, with prizes of toilet roll and Prosecco for the winners!

Normally I’d get quite close to my subject with a pinhole camera, because it’s a great way of getting some interesting perspectives, but of course on this occasion that wasn’t possible, so instead, I stood on the opposite side of the road with my wooden 6×9 pinhole camera and simply asked everyone to hold still for 5 seconds.

Luckily, with the beautiful sunshine we’d been enjoying, I was able to use a roll of Ilford HP5+ film, which I rated at 400 ISO, to capture most people in this way. Having now processed the rolls in my home darkroom, it was really exciting to see how they’d come out! Of course, they’re not perfect images, but I think they have a certain charm to them.

Creating this small project and documenting a one-off moment in our street’s history, has given me a little lift. Most importantly of all, as we shouted to our neighbours across the street, it really did feel as though it brought our little community together (at a safe social distance!) with a little joy.

This connection between people and the memories that can be captured, are two of the main reasons why photography is important to me, so although it’s not the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day I thought I’d be having this year, it was definitely memorable.

About the author: Rachel Brewster-Wright is a UK-based maker, wedding photographer, educator, and founder of #shootfilmbenice. To see more of her work, visit her website and gallery, give her a follow on Instagram, or check out her Etsy shop.

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