May 29, 2015

(Martinsville Bulletin) - Pinhole photography requires artists to slow down and capture a moment more so than instant and digital photography, James Draper Jr. maintains.


The result can be especially beautiful, he believes, when using this process, which dates back more than 100 years.


Draper, a local pinhole photography enthusiast, shared his knowledge and talents with area residents during a recent noncredit lecture at the New College Institute (NCI) on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville.


According to the website, pinhole photography is done without a lens, using a box with a small hole at one end and film or photographic paper at the other end. Images are less sharp than in photos taken with lenses.


“Pinhole photography affords me the opportunity to be creative,” Draper said. “It is challenging but rewarding. This process gives me the best of both worlds: analog and digital photography.”


During the workshop, Draper demonstrated the construction of his various cameras and the techniques and methods to produce pinhole photography. He demonstrated his creativity in using repurposed materials to create these pinhole cameras with materials such as picture frames, modern cameras, an empty paint can and even an oatmeal container.


“I think others should learn about this art because history repeats itself,” he said. “To really understand pinhole photography, a person has to participate in the whole process,” including the use of film and developing images in a darkroom. “This exposure will increase one’s knowledge and appreciation of the art.”


Draper’s pinhole photography has been featured in many exhibits and publications such as the Science Museum of Virginia, RVA First Fridays Art Walk and Richmond Magazine. He also was a photographer for the Richmond Free Press as well as an educator for many years.


“The community can learn a lot from Draper’s knowledge and experience. His photographs represent an artistic look into everyday scenes, and the process for capturing these moments is truly an art form,” said Steve Keyser, NCI’s coordinator of community engagement.


NCI’s next scheduled noncredit lecture will be at noon June 17. Patricia H. Grant, Virginia Commonwealth University’s faculty member in residence at the institute, will speak on “Cancer & Chemo: Embracing the Monster Within,” reflecting on her journey as a “survivor-in-training,” said Autumn Morris, NCI’s communications and marketing director.


It will be Grant’s last lecture before she retires, Morris said.