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 in a number of countries. 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 September 2020.