The Camera

Learning Guide 1

Skills and Concepts

  1. Learn how to use a pinhole camera.
  2. The essential parts of a camera.
  3. How a camera works.
  4. What photography is.

Lectures and Demonstrations

  1. Camera Basica
  2. Playing with Fire

Baseline Requirements (85 points)

  1. Read the key readings as described below and then craft an essay addressing the topic (20)
  2. The pinhole photographer you researched (their name, where their work is located, some relevant examples) (5)
  3. Three pinhole photographs. At least one should be inspired by the pinhole photographer you researched, and at least two should be images you personally took. (60)

Exemplar: Justin Quinnell

6 month exposure of Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol
Justin Quinnell

Justin Quinnell is a photographer and teacher from the UK whose focus has been on pinhole photography. He prides himself on accessibility, creativity, and experimentation.

Key Readings

You are to read at least two of the following key readings about the nature of photography:

AND, at least one of these articles on the history of photography


After you’ve completed your key readings, ponder the question, “is photography art?” If you’re unsure at this point, seek other opinions: read some more of the key readings, do your own research, ask your peers and friends, ask your parents, ask other teachers. Once you’ve decided on whether it is or isn’t, or what is and what isn’t, convince me of your viewpoint. You can do this in writing, or another medium (pending my approval).

Regardless, follow this format:

  1. state your opinion (photography is/isn’t art, certain kinds of photography are art, and certain kinds aren’t, etc.).
  2. apply your knowledge of the history of photography to your argument.
  3. cite other facts and arguments used to support your opinion.

Shooting Assignments

Digital Pinhole

Everyone looked at examples of pinhole photography. Armed with some ideas you developed after research, your group will plan and execute a pinhole photograph using one of the pinhole lens caps and cameras from the classroom.

Pinhole Exemplar

Additionally, you should include an image that you took that explicitly was inspired by the photographer you researched.

Enrichment Activities

  1. Develop a plan for improving your photography. You need to list some specific steps based on the readings. Cite the work that inspired you. (10 points)
  2. Find an iPhoneographer (or smart phone photographer) whose work inspires you. Put some of their images (or a link to their work) in your learning guide. Explain what you like about their work, and list tools and techniques they use in their workflow (5 points)

Additional Readings

Additional Readings

The following readings are optional in the sense that you don’t need to read all of them, but you should definitely read some of them.

The Photographer’s Manifesto

Becoming a Better Photographer, Things Your Photography Teacher Wish You Knew Before Coming to Class, The Myth of Dead Photography

What is Photography? Is it Art?What is Photography ? and What is Photography ?. Art vs. Photography– a review of an exhibit. A MoMA exhibit about contemporary art and photography’s role. Photography is the New Universal Language. Originality is Dead, Guardian Debate About Photography As Art

Pinhole Photography History. A Short Introduction. Justin Quinnell. 25 pinholes. Building a Camera Obscura In Your House (Step 1: ask first!), Another Example

Your Phone as a Camera How my Phone Improved my Photography. iPhoneography. 2017 iPhoneography Awards | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012. The Emerging Artform of iPhoneography, iPhones and Perceptions, Take Better Smartphone Pictures

Miscellany Most Powerful Images of 2013 (video). The Photography Teacher Nobody Wants, Don’t Shoot on Train Tracks (seriously). MIT Photography Courses, A Physics Description of How Optics Works (video), Powerful Images from the Past 10 Years