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The 12th Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day takes place on Sunday, 29 April.

Sean Halligan using his pinhole camera on Liverpool docks c S Halligan

Sean Halligan using his pinhole camera on Liverpool docks c S Halligan

A pinhole camera (or ‘camera obscura’) is a light-tight box with a tiny hole in one side (as a camera) through which light passes and makes an image of the outside space on the opposite side of the box.

Alternatively it can be a room with a hole in one wall through which light comes and makes the image on the opposite wall.

The camera has a long history – it was used to look at eclipses, and we know that Leonardo de Vinci used a camera obscura to study perspective for his drawings.

The Hardmans’ House in Liverpool

One location where Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day will be celebrated is The Hardmans’ House in Liverpool – former home of renowned photographer Edward Chambré Hardman.

Sarah-Jane Langley, custodian at the house, explained: ” We thought it would be great to celebrate Pinhole Photography Day in the place where Edward Chambré Hardman produced his wonderful photographs – though with slightly more sophisticated equipment!

“We’ve therefore asked local Liverpool photographer Sean Halligan to run two workshops on 29 April at noon and 2.30pm when you can make your own pinhole camera.

“Sean will show you how to use it and you can then go into the garden and take your own pictures.

“We’ve organised a special darkroom to develop the images which you can take home”.

Photograph history

The first photograph taken with a pinhole camera was the work of Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster back in 1850, with the technique becoming more established in photography during the late 19th century when it was noted for the soft outlines it produced, as opposed to lenses generating perfect, sharp images.

Pinhole photography day

Pinhole photography day

The pinhole camera was later abandoned and it wasn’t until the end of the 1960s that several artists began using it in their experiments, awakening renewed interest in this simple photographic apparatus which endures to this day.

During the mid-20th century, scientists discovered that it could be used to photograph X-ray radiation and gamma rays, which the ordinary lens absorbs.

As a result, the pinhole camera then found its way onto spacecraft and into space itself.

World pinhole photography day 

An increasing number of people are showing interest in the exciting practice of pinhole photography.

In 2001, 291 pinhole photographers from 24 countries took part in the web exhibition. Last year they were 3387 from 67 countries.

The Hardmans’ House at 59 Rodney St, Liverpool is open Weds – Sun, 11am – 3.30pm. Admission by timed ticket – advance booking is advisable on 0151 709 6261.

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