Sunday, December 7, 2008

Michel Bayard - NYC's DIY Pinhole Camera Master Rediscovered!





With the above camera, Michel Bayard made these:





Good Morning SuperForest.

Jackson here.
A few years back I was walking through the city and I passed a man selling photos. What instantly caught my eye was that each photo was exactly the size of one frame of film, no enlargements, a one to one transfer.

I stopped and had a gander at the works, speaking in vague pleasantries with the vendor. The work was really good! I asked the guy: "What did you use to shoot these?"

And he replied: "This" taking a small plastic film container out of his pocket.

He had cut a chunk out of the side of the film canister, taped a small sliver of soda can over the hole, and pushed a teeny tiny pinhole through the sliver. He had made a pinhole camera.

I asked him how much he wanted for a piece, and he replied "Twenty dollars."

I cannot remember what happened next. I had no money, I chickened out, I was hit by a moving van. For some reason I walked away without a piece of this man's work.

I have spent every moment since looking for him.

Many were the nights I spent searching, kicking myself for not jumping at the chance to possess something that moved and interested me.

Yesterday, I found him!

Michel Bayard is an extraordinary New York photographer. His pinhole pieces are treasures. And when I saw him in Union Square this Saturday, I flipped out.
I got all fan boy. Trying to tell him how happy I was to find him while he was on the phone with someone...

He hung up the phone, gave me a smile and a handshake, and told me magical things...

He told me about using Altoids boxes to make cameras. He showed me how to position a pinhole camera to produce a variety of visual effects, bridges that twist and wobble, buildings that stretch skyward... He told me of his secret techniques for getting those that have not asked to cease photographing his works.

I did not get any of his back story, but I have his email, and I will approach him about doing an interview. His document of this modern city using an ancient method is utterly charming.



Michel has no official site, but many admirers:

apartmenttherapy.com - Michel Bayard: Pinhole Photographer
usefilm.com - Michel Bayard
fotolog.com - mbayard

Here's Michel's flickr set.
And here is Michel on an episode of BikeTV.

Most amazing is that Michel is clever and crafty enough to pack his entire display...



Onto this bicycle...



Amazing!

Michel, you are a SuperForest Hero. For your contribution to the cultural growth of the citizens of New York, E Pluribus Unum, your steadfast dedication to documenting this astouding urban environment, and for your awesome self-reliant, carbon-negative, bicycling ways, SuperForest is proud to award you... the Good Person Award!






After we had our lovely chat, Michel was kind enough to sell me this:



It cost $20.00, and I will treasure it for the remainder of my life.

Keep an eye out for Michel. The man is a living treasure.
He's sometimes in Union Square on weekends.

Love to All,

Jackson

26 comments:

Lindsay said...

i will absolutely be looking for michel this weekend - what incredible art!

carla said...

The photographs are gorgeous! What a trip that you were able to find him after so much time had passed.

Nothing is coincidence.

Chris Baskind said...

You got a good one. And thank you for sharing his story with us. :-)

Amy said...

Michel Bayard is an amazing artist. He is my Uncle. For my entire life, Michel has been following his passions as an artist biker and family man. There is so much more to Michel you don't know. I remember when he taught me how to make jewelry in my mother's oven! This is an amazing article. Good work!

Jenn said...

I love unconventional photography, will keep my eye out for him next time I'm in the city.

Anonymous said...

I have known "mickey" for 5 yrs. working beside him @ Union Square 14st. He is the supreme street artist and an amazing man. I am proud to own some of his work and to work along side him as a fellow artist. Long Live King Mickey!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Michel is not only a very talented artist he is a great person very smart and ingenious if you are lucky enough to get to know him you would not beleive the talent he has i am one of those lucky persons he is my brother

kippy

Susan Hamberry said...

Suzie says,
I wish all of New York would know more of my brother.He is truly a good person.Althouh he takes time to sell his art to make a living you can also see him return to Union square late in the night to feed the homeless.There is nothing he would not do for another human being.I have seen give his coat of his back to a homeless man.Most of all he takes time to cook for them and makes them feel valued as human beings.He dosn't want anyone to know this but good people should get praised.He is a person of the earth and his message is clear.Respect the earth and ALL living creatures.
Congratulations Mickey!!
I love you,
Your sister
Suzie

Sheila Bocchine, Pinhole Photographer said...

oh mickey! i know him well! i own three of his pieces and used to go hang out with him on the weekends when i lived in NYC! he is one of my favorite pinhole photographers, thank you for this lovely piece on him!


Buy Original Signed Pinhole Photographs on ETSY

Adam said...

The photos are incredible but how many freaking friends and relatives does this guy have?

tc-t said...

Very nice blog. Went well with my morning coffee, thank you.
I love the photography and when I am next in New York I will look Michael Bayard up.

ilovephotoblogs said...

Amazing story about an incredible artist and human being...I have featured a link to this story on my site. Thanks again for sharing!

quibee said...

he is an inspiration to all us photographers! me, myself is a photography student in university and i saw this website and it has inpsired me how he can produce such amazing images such as these. i have made my own obscura camera but its nithing like Michel's but i may try and produce the same camera obscure as he had. thank you for sharing this website and i am very sure that the people i share this website with will adore his great imagination aswel as a great inspiration to photograhers.

thank you

Quibee Allenby

Mik said...

Awesome photos and you are lucky to get one.

dana said...

I've seen Michel a few times on trips to NYC, never buying his work, and always regretting it! His photos are so clever, yet so simple and moving.

Golden Hot Pants said...

These are fascinating. I'd love to meet the guy he sounds so interesting.

Photoghog said...

I don't know..it looks photoshopped. I think you can probably do those same effects with 'shop, I find it hard to believe that someone would go through all the trouble just to put it on film.

Furthermore, I don't think the so-called "art" is of very high quality..Ansel Adams was a photographer. This Bayard is clearly not of the same caliber.

Marsha said...

I love Michel Bayard's photos - very surreal and atmospheric ! Also - Enjoy your blog very much ! I appreciate all the work you put into it !

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, but god all this niceness makes me want to vomit....

Mike said...

Nice herald back to WH Fox Talbot and his 'mousetraps'! Excellent work.

Entertainment zone said...

I did the pin hole camera experiment, when i was in the school. lol

Mark said...

I bought one of his pinhole prints when I visited NYC in 2004. It's my only souvenir from that trip.

Anonymous said...

that son of a bitch stole my camera ida 24 years ago and still will not come clean. he is a thief!

UnBo said...

Dearest Anon,

The idea wasn't yours. Sorry. Someone had it before. Most of us, me and apparently you included, are damn near incapable of original thought. Nice try though.

jelonbelon said...

I am going to bitchslap the next person who says "Oh, that's photoshopped". Get a life, people.

Btw, nice photographs, very inspiring.

Leigh said...

Good to see special people like Michel getting the recognition the deserve-- nice story, thanks.

I too designed and made a tiny pinhole camera many years ago. I documented it with pictures of my design, the camera and a few images taken with it. Later I posted those on my old Fotolog site on this page:
http://www.fotolog.com/sparkyleigh/7652196