C.B. Adams


Welcome to another featured Pinholista, and this week it is C.B. Adams. C.B. is another Pinholista who contacted me shortly after I launched this site and who’s work I was not previously familiar with. I’m loving the fact that this is happening and I hope more of you will do the same…you know where the form is (it’s here). I hope you enjoy C.B.’s work, I think it’s great and its a privilege to share it with you.

Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.

My public name is C.B. Adams. I was born and raised in Missouri in the United States and currently live in St. Charles, on the Missouri River. I am both a writer and photographer. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in fine arts. In addition to my photography, I have published a dozen short stories in literary journals. I am married with two sons.

I make the majority of my income as a specialized writer and communications consultant, but I am equally committed to personal fine art photography. I accept only a limited number of portrait commissions when I am interested in the person. I do not do weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs ( ☺ ).

Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.

If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have said I shoot only black and white. However, I have been curious about the effects of a pinhole with color film in recent months. I still prefer black and white, but some subjects are better in color, just like Paul Simon said. Thus far, I have only shot 120 format because I have a Zero 2000 camera that accepts it. I also shoot Holga, Diana and other toy cameras. I am drawn to the square format.

In terms of the analog/digital question, I have a partially completed blog titled, “Hey, I’m Bi. Deal With It.” That should answer the question. Admin’s note, this raises a really interesting question about digital pinhole photography, a subject I intend to explore in a future post.

I refused to write an artist’s statement for a long time because many I have seen suffer from too much pontificating and bloviating. But a recent exhibition required one, and I conceded and wrote: “I use cameras the way painters use different brushes. I am intrigued by the way light is rendered by a camera in general, and the way light is rendered by different cameras using different films in particular. As a writer, I am dedicated to using language to precisely tell a story. I strive for the same effect in photography…” This may be a tad pretentious, but it is heartfelt and true. Maybe that is why I have 45 cameras of all types/formats. Admin’s note, I think this is perfect to be honest. For a long time I’ve struggled with the idea of making images being art, at least in my hands, so the idea of writing an artists statement horrifies me…one day I suspect I shall need to do this and if it is half as good as C.B.’s then I’ll be happy.

Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual? 

I have not pursued anything “unusual,” but I have recently become intrigued with the encaustic process. If there is anything unusual about my work it may be subject matter. I shoot anything and everything that attracts me, but I have an ongoing series of images of roadside memorials. In some states in the US, people are allowed to erect memorials to loved ones who died in that spot. Some think this subject is morbid, but I find them interesting. Many emit some sort of tangible vibe. The memorials often say more about the people who erected them than the person who died. I have almost been struck by passing vehicles trying to get the photograph. There’s a reason why people died on these Dead Man Curves.

Terroir I

Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?

I am both lazy and easily intimidated by building something as simple as a pinhole. That is why I have only the Zero 2000 at present. I am lusting after a Russian-made black aluminium 120-format pinhole, but the cost is outrageous. I have an artist friend who is threatening to come over and make me adapt either my Graflex or one of my old Polaroids into a pinhole. I won’t put up much of a fight. Admin’s note…this is the camera C.B. is referring to. It looks like an 8Banners camera to me (I have a different model) and they are pricey for sure. I’ve seen them occasionally on that auction site but if anyone is aware of another source please let me know (via the contact form) and I’ll pass it on.

How long have you shot pinhole?

A a serious shooter, at least five years. But I made my first pinhole when I was a Boy Scout working on a merit badge.

Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?

Pinhole photography was a natural progression for me starting about 10 years ago. That’s when I “discovered” the atmospheric work being accomplished with Holgas and other toy cameras. I have become progressively lo-fier and analoguer. Pinhole was the next logical step. I am drawn to the challenge of creating a complex photograph with something so simple.

You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them. 

I have chosen images that were taken during the past few years at a wildlife preserve which is a short drive from my home. It was once an Army training base but now is maintained by the Missouri Conservation Department. I have been visiting this refuge since I was a teenager, and I never fail to find interesting things to photograph. Admin’s note, the photographs in this post appear in the order below.

  • Corrugation: This image was featured in The Poorwill Gallery’s Online Pinhole Photography Competition. It was shot on Efka 25 ISO film with my Zero 2000 on a blustery day in December as the first arctic cold front of the season was passing through. The ripple effect in the clouds is the most interesting thing for me in this photograph.
  •  Terroir I: I titled this “Terroir I” because, as a French word that means a set of special characteristics of the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, this lake bed fits that description. We experienced a severe drought in the Midwest two years ago, and the lower water levels revealed all sorts of interesting things in lakes, streams and rivers. This image was selected for inclusion in the Plates to Pixels lenZless online exhibition. Same camera and film as “Corrugation.”
  •  In the Falling Time I – This is a fresh example of my recent color work – I just received this film from my lab this week. I shot it with a Zero 2000 and Kodak Ektar 100 film.
  •  In The Falling Time II – Cupressus Island: I have photographed these trees on numerous occasions, but I finally got them right with this image. Same details as its predecessor.

In the Falling Time I

Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?

Other than my roadside memorial series, I do not consciously set out to shoot within a certain theme or a particular project. But, as evidenced by my use of Roman numerals, I seem to keep making associations among my images that are linked thematically, which in time become de facto projects. However, I don’t want to jinx the organic nature of each series by over-thinking my process.

Have you ever exhibited your work?

Other than those mentioned above, recent work has appeared in The Holga Show at the Saans Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah, Visions 2013 at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center in California, The Unrefined Light exhibit at The Foundry in my hometown of St. Charles, Missouri, and Under the Influence at the Art Saint Louis gallery.

Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.

Other than well-known photographers such as Eric Renner and Paolo Gioli, I enjoy the work of Barbara Ess, Chris Keeney and many of the people I have discovered on the f295 website and elsewhere. This is really an unfair question because I am amazed at how much excellent work is being done all the time by photographers worldwide, yourself included. Admin’s note, some great photographers named there but I completely agree with C.B. in that most dedicated Pinholistas are producing some incredible work…one of the missions of this site is to try and promote that.

In The Falling Time II – Cupressus Island:

Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?

My website is www.qwerkyphotography.com. The site has been up less than a year and I apologize that my portfolio is not nearly complete nor well organized. I write a blog about some of my photos as well as a lifestyle blog called Life On Snob Hill. Some of my fiction is also available on my site.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your work with pinholista.com

No, thank you for this terrific opportunity and for all you are doing to support the pinhole community.

My thanks to C.B. for introducing his work, which I hope you all enjoyed. All works are copyright of C.B. Adams,  please respect this or giftmas will not go well for you!

1 reply
  1. Jeff Soderquist says:

    Another great pinhole profile, and a photog I’ve not previously seen work from to boot! I found myself nodding in agreement as I read this sentence in particular ‘I am both lazy and easily intimidated by building something as simple as a pinhole.’ Those two things are exactly why I’ve not made a go at building my own pinhole cameras. Neither are that great of a reason, but its true. In an odd way I find comfort in knowing I’m not the only one…


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