Years after I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to make "big" photographs that I would hand paint with oils. I felt this was a great way to marry my two degrees (painting and photojournalism). There was only one problem... I did not have the money to afford the large format camera I would need to make the proper negatives for the job. After days and weeks of reading and research, I came upon a group called the "Pinhole Resource."
The Pinhole Resource was established in 1984 by Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer, the organization was there to provide resources, advice and information for photographers around the world.
I set out to make my first camera from a Tide detergent box utilizing a 4x5 film back. Along the way Eric was there to answer my questions ... lots of questions.
Eric was patient and never blew off any of my basic questions about light, exposure and making pinhole cameras. He was always patient, encouraging and set me on a road to becoming a "pinhole photographer." Through the years we would meet up at various conferences, exhibitions and gallery events, often leading to memorable dinners full of laughter and story telling. As they say, we became fast friends.
Around 1995 I received a call from Eric saying he had a collector interested in purchasing one of my photographs. At that point I had not really sold a lot of my work and certainly not to an out-of-state 'collector'. Eric proceeded to tell my all the reason's I needed to follow through with this inquiry, the main one being that this collector had one of the largest pinhole collections in the world. The collector was a guy named Graham Nash, didn't ring a bell with me, but I never was really into music. I called Matt and told him, "hey this guy named Graham Nash wants to purchase one of my photos." Matt being the music guru of the family explained that Nash was one of the members of the iconic group 'Crosby, Stills and Nash'. SOLD!
Eric through the years would continue to recommend my artwork to collectors, museums and curators. And would include my work in several of his books as well as his popular
periodical The Pinhole Journal.
Many photographers have played a roll in my career, but probably none for as many years as Eric.
I am broken hearted today to learn that Eric Renner died in Las Cruces, NM, on April 9th. He will be greatly missed by many and always remembered by those he mentored. Rest in peace Eric. I'll always treasure our friendship.
Photo of Nancy Spencer and Eric Renner by Petr Jerabek from New Mexico Arts
All other photographs (c) rebecca sexton larson