About me

Jon GrepstadI was born in Norway and have lived nearly all my life here. I studied English, French and literary theory at the University of Bergen in Norway, and also spent a year in the US at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I studied English and American literature, Italian and Latin.

When I was a young boy and teenager I was fascinated by woodworking and mechanics. From the age of eleven I read regularly the Norwegian edition of Mechanix Illustrated. In my early teens I built a camera tripod based on an article in that magazine.

I also developed an interest in visual form and photography at an early age. My father, who was a teacher in a countryside community, had a Kodak Brownie E. My own first camera was a 35 mm Dacora Dignette with a Steinheil Cassar lens, which my parents bought me second hand in 1959. The camera served me well for years and I still have it.

I started working more seriously on photography in the late 1980s. In 1991 I built my first large format camera of oak, brass and aluminum, a monorail camera with friction focusing. Later, in 1996, I published the first edition of my book Building a Large Format Camera, which has been used by ardent amateur photographers and woodworkers all over the world. The book was updated and revised in 2000. It can now be downloaded free of charge from my website.

I have been doing pinhole photography, now my main photographic activity, since 1990. My online article “Pinhole Photography – History, Images, Cameras, Formulas”, first published in 1996 and updated regularly, has been translated into several languages and is one of the resources of the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

Since 2013 I have published six limited edition books of pinhole photography:

  • Camera Obscura. Ten Pinhole Photographs. Oslo 2013. ISBN 978-82-993938-2-9
  • Pinhole Images 1992–2014. Oslo 2014. ISBN 978-82-993938-3-6
  • Föhr, Svolvær, Hydra. Fifteen Pinhole Photographs. Oslo 2015. ISBN 978-82-993938-4-3
  • Oslo Revisited. Fourteen Pinhole Photographs. Oslo 2016. ISBN 978-82-993938-5-0
  • Roma Stenopeica. Pinhole Wanderings in Rome. Oslo 2017. ISBN 978-82-993938-7-4
  • Roma Stenopeica. Vandringar med camera obscura i Roma. Oslo 2018. ISBN 978-82-993938-8-1

Two books of digital photographs:

  • Iceland.  Black and White Photographs. Oslo 2016. ISBN 978-82-993938-6-7
  • Gente di Roma. Vandringar under Romas himmel. Oslo 2019. ISBN 978-82-691870-0-7

A book published in Norwegian on my Italian journeys:

  • Italiareiser. Oslo 2018. ISBN 978-82-993938-9-8.

In 1996 I made my first website, tagged from scratch in html 1.2. The files were uploaded by ftp. I updated and hand tagged my website in html without any publishing software until 2015, when my Internet service provider decided not to host sites any longer. At that time, I was tagging in html 4.0. My current website, no longer hand tagged, was established in September 2015.

Until 2008, when I retired, I was head of information at the Norwegian Language Council, an agency under the Norwegian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. I now spend my time on photography, the study of languages, writing and traveling.

Jon Grepstad
jon.grepstad (at) getmail.no

Last updated November 2019.