Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day - Is it dying? Can it be resuscitated?

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scyg

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After a few years of growth, WPPD has been in sharp decline. The team in charge of it seems to have left it on autopilot, and the number of participants has fallen below levels last seen in 2003. Can this trend be reversed? This was a community effort at first, with lots of excitement around it, but now seems to have turned into a dead-end project run by a closed group of people with little interest in getting the word out to people not already into it.
I want the project to thrive, to spread the joy of pinhole photography to those who haven't had a chance to get to know it yet. I have taken part in it from the start in 2001, both as part of the original organizing team, as a workshop organizer and as a regular participant. I inquired a few years ago about helping with it, but was told the team didn't need any help. I have seen no progress since then, and have only watched the project continue to decline.
WPPD Participants.png

Just so there's no misunderstanding - I don't want to disparage the people running it. They have maintained things, and have clearly shelled out for the server space needed to keep it going - and they deserve thanks for that. I'm just looking for ideas of how to get the project back on its feet despite the organizers' apparent disinterest in growing it beyond its current limited scope.
I think that in order to make the project more attractive to new participants, the website needs a serious revamp, both in terms of look and functionality. More server space is also needed for larger images - these days a 700px maximum is not sufficient even for mobile devices. These are things the current organizers have a lock on, and without their willingness to open up to more outside participation, not much can be done. However, the event can be promoted better, and this is where I see the community's role - I'd like to see if we can organize a separate group of volunteers to spearhead a real promotional campaign for WPPD 2023. Any takers? Ideas? Let's start a conversation, maybe something will grow out of it. After all, that's how the whole thing got started in the first place.
 
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Sirius Glass

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I participated in the Worldwide Pinhole Day and Exchange via APUG and I sent out about a dozen sets of 5"x7" color prints and only got a few photographs back. What I received from Australia was quite stunning. After that I did not have the interest in doing another exchange. For me no exchange; not going to bother posting on the web.
 

BAC1967

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I try to participate every year but wasn’t able to this year. Hopefully I’ll be back in it next year.
 

DWThomas

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I have participated every year from 2005 thru 2022 and have it on my calendar for this year. I think the Covid years may have had some negative effect perhaps -- lock-downs and all that stuff. I generally share the info about the day on Facebook and point it out to a few photographers I know.

The exchange @Sirius Glass refers to was indeed a disappointment, but Yers Trooly happily continues, assuming his advancing age and decrepitude permit! At least some of my pinhole efforts are in my gallery here.
 

Don_ih

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I only participated in Pinhole Day once. I thought the website was pretty useless and wondered how anyone was supposed to get anything out of it. It wasn't pleasant to navigate.

As for exchanges: you should only participate in an exchange if you're happy to send your prints without a return. Some people won't get around to sending anything. Then chances are they won't join the next round.
 

MellowCat

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I just recently got into Pinhole cameras. I spend most of my time shooting with a pinhole camera now and hope to participate in WPPD this year. I did look at the site and it's not great for sure.
 

Daniela

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I've never participated in WPPD because I always miss it. However, I never really looked into how to submit pictures or anything, so it's interesting to read this thread.
If there was an exchange arranged here on Photrio, I'd commit to exchanging with others. I've had a good experience with the postcard exchange.
 

Donald Qualls

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I never found a problem submitting (and the web site doesn't seem bad to me, but then I remember Geocities), but getting around to processing and scanning can be an issue. I missed it last year because my darkroom wasn't operating and scanning Instax can be problematic.
 

gone

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I think mentioning WPPD and sharp in the same sentence may be a problem :>)

It might be a niche category, some shots even w/ a lens look pretty similar to pinhole shots to most people.
 

BHuij

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I should participate this year. I have a couple of pinhole cameras. There are a lot of intriguing designs for them free to be 3D printed, so I seem to go through a cycle where I print and assemble one, run a roll or three through it, decide I don't like the results I'm getting because I'm not good at pinhole photography, and then give away the camera. I've done this with 35mm, 645, 6x6, 6x9, and 5x7 pinhole cameras over the last few years :D

But I can always throw a pinhole lens on my 4x5, and I even have a box of super expired film I could use without feeling guilty about burning large format sheets on pinhole haha.

I was aware of worldwide pinhole day, but I always just thought of it as kind of a "national holiday" where maybe people go out and take some pinhole shots, and there could be a few posts on Reddit where people share, or a group on Flickr or something. I wasn't aware there was a print exchange associated with it.

Despite my seeming inability to produce pinhole work I'm very happy with, if there was a print exchange associated with WPPD, I'd sign up in a heartbeat. Might even try to convince a friend to shoot some pinhole with me haha.
 

MattKing

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I always figured that the website was probably put together by someone who likes to make cameras out of old soup cans - who would have thought? :smile:
If I read the chart correctly, there are more countries participating than there are participants. There must be a circle of confusion involved somewhere.
To my mind, the interest seems quite steady. New energy would be good, but I'm less concerned about continuing viability. I've participated three times I think.
 

BrianShaw

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I'm not too sure that I understand how to read that graph, but if it is either 1400 or 57 participants in 2022... then that seem to be a rather respectable turnout.
 

Donald Qualls

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I read it as ~1400 participants from 57 countries as of 2022. Still doesn't seem bad for something that mostly gets promoted at the last minute. I've got 35 mm (double frame) and 6x6 commercially made cameras, a 3D printed one for 4x5 that I need to get around to gluing the parts together and making a pinhole for, and a pinhole "lens" in shutter for one of my plate cameras that can also be mounted to my Speed Graphic or Graphic View II with a few minutes of swapping parts around, and a pinhole body cap for M42.

Well, plus my large bunch of Pintoids and Gumpintoids, and the Polapin (for which film hasn't been made in about fifteen years -- but I've still got a couple packs, I should use them up before they fog too much more).
 

Sirius Glass

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I just recently got into Pinhole cameras. I spend most of my time shooting with a pinhole camera now and hope to participate in WPPD this year. I did look at the site and it's not great for sure.

Welcome to APUG Photrio!!
 

Roger Thoms

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I’ll participate this year. Not sure what camera I’ll use, but I did get a Jumbo Harrison film changing tent so my single shot 5 1/2” x 14” panoramic pinhole is an option. Otherwise the Titan 810 is the easy way, hard to beat the convenience of film holders.

Roger
 

BHuij

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Now I'm sitting here thinking I want to build an 8x10 pinhole camera... would probably make for some pretty cool salt prints.
 
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scyg

scyg

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Yeah, sorry, the graph could have been clearer. The left vertical axis is for participants, the right for countries. Ca. 1400 entries in 2022, compared to almost 4000 at the peak, with definite downward trend up until Covid, when it plateaued somewhat.
The group listed (only in some years, which also kinda makes you think), includes people in charge of promotion and education, but the 2022 publicity guy doesn't even list WPPD on his own website, so I'm guessing his heart isn't really in it either.
While I appreciate people may have varying levels of enthusiasm for any enterprise, it would be nice for pinhole photography's premiere event, originally intended to popularize the medium and not just for a few oldsters to post their pictures on a medium-quality website, to have an enthusiastic team leading it. Since the organizers don't seem to see the point of it any more, I wanted to get together a team that would do some guerilla marketing for it. Call it Friends of Pinhole Day, Pinhole People or some such. Mainly sending press releases both locally and regionally, as well as hitting up photo bloggers, vloggers, TikTokkers and whatnot. Ideally also from countries where pinholie photography hasn't taken off yet.
 
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Sirius Glass

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I still take pinhole photographs, but I no longer post or participate in group or internet related activities.
 

DWThomas

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IIRC,at one time it was possible to easily create a casual group registration for say, APUG or Photrio, on the WPPD site but the last time I looked at their setup it seemed to want a much more formal arrangement.

I don't find the website that bad, there have been some improvements over the years. including encouragement and a method to insert a picture of the camera used. And one can search by country, and even by state in the US. I often enjoy looking to see if anybody here in SE Pennsylvania has entered. I have also enjoyed checking out the groups, especially young kids, whose work is often far from optimum pinholery, but they frequently have photographs of each other that show their excitement about doing the projects.

I also usually make a contribution to the operators to keep it all going.
 

Sirius Glass

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I’ve become disenchanted with WPPD now that ~70% of the work is from digital devices. Most of those are so smudgy and poor that they’re not worth looking at, frankly.

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