Bethany de Forest

2012 Jun 23 - Jul 19

Bethany de Forest 2012

During art school one of Bethany’s main activities was creating settings, which she then photographed. Her objective was to create a “realistic” imaginary world, in which one can supposedly wander around. With an ordinary camera the images remained too distant... But with the pinhole camera she was able to capture this feeling.

Her inspiration stems from objects she may find or materials that appeal to her. Often her ideas contain elements from fairy-tales. The story is neither conventional nor predictable though, the images can be interpreted in many ways.

Being a pinhole photographer Bethany’s view of the world is quite deformed. Her everyday surroundings are looked at with a pinhole eye. Sugar cubes are like bricks and chicken-feet are tree-trunks.

About the models

Bethany’s pictures radiate a fairy-tale atmosphere. A close-up perspective causes an unusual reality to emerge. Because of this, lifeless materials come to life while living matter is taken out of its ordinary context and is transformed into an almost static still life.

Bethany primarily works with ordinary materials. She uses candle wax to build an ice palace and colored candy for a colorful dollhouse, while thousands of sugar cubes are used to construct the Frog king’s castle. Metal, stained glass, cotton balls, asparagus and raspberries, leaves and twigs: all are hardly recognizable in these strange worlds

To create the illusion of space, Bethany uses mirrors. This complicates matters, for it causes the camera to appear in the picture. The camera therefore is a part of the setting and is fit to blend in with the surroundings. Unrecognizable for the viewer, but essential for the image.

About pinhole

The models/ settings, often not larger than a reasonably sized box, are captured by means of pinhole photography. To create a pinhole picture, you need a pinhole camera. This is a camera without a lens; the light reaches the film through a tiny hole (the size of a pinpoint). Many objects can be turned into cameras; boxes and cans are extremely useful.
Bethany’s first camera was a matchbox, which she used to create black and white images of a very small model (the glass house).

This is one of Bethany’s favorite aspects of pinhole: building a camera of which the shape and measurements correspond with that what you need. Nowadays Bethany uses modified cameras, because of the comfort of a film transport-mechanism. She rids these cameras of lens and shutter and inserts an ordinary piece of foil with a small hole in its center.
Another unusual aspect is that no button is pressed, just remove the cap and let the light do its work. The aperture times are much longer than with ordinary photography. A picture taken from within a model takes ten minutes on average. Outside in bright daylight apertures are shorter, but still several seconds.

Opening pictures