With a series of drool-worthy exposures in a needle-thin opening, check out Lomography Hong Kong's interview with Martin Cheung, Pinhole photographer extraordinaire just in time for the much-awaited World Pinhole Day!
1. Why do you use pinhole photography as your main medium of artistic expression?
I was trained in a proper photography school where they use 4×5 large format to demonstrate most of the technical classes. You know, lighting in studio, composing the shot, tilt and shift, correct exposures…etc
We were taught that the photographer should have the technical ability to pre-visualize and predict the outcome.
However, in 1998, my second school year, I joined a pinhole workshop, ever since, my view to photography has altered. I gave up the view finder in my photography practice because I no longer believe in the “hunting” action by the romanticize photographer role anymore.
I use pinhole cameras, because I like to be in a passive role in the image making process. I’m not a hunter, I’m like a monk, mediating and receives light from the surroundings.
2. How long have you been a Lomographer? How did you first learn about Lomography?
In year 1998, I bought my first actionsampler transparent in Melbourne. Using 3200asa black and white film with it was super fun. That’s how I knew Lomography and probably why I end up for an interview in Lomo HK in 2003.
3. What’s your first reaction when you use the Diana Multi-Pinhole Operator?
I believe most people like pinhole photography prefer to construct their own camera, but when you get to a job situation, where art directors and stylists are surrounding u, they want to see what has been taken immediately on the spot, it’s always been like that in the olden days when polaroids were used, but today is digital.
Interesting enough, I encountered a fashion shoot opportunity to use pinhole camera, and my exisiting equipment didn’t have the “instant show” ability, so the Diana multiple pinhole camera with instant back
was the perfect solution for me. By the way, I had 2, one loaded with film, one uses the instant back.
4. Can you share with us the strangest, most interesting and best photographic and Lomographic experience?
I might have mentioned this many times in evey interview, but still, the pinhole duck camera work is still the most interesting experience for me. I loaded a b/w photographic paper into a Chinese roast duck, pinhole
on the duck’s tummy, did a 45 minutes exposure of Melbourne’s Chinatown. Sometimes the thinking progress Is more interesting than by just viewing the photograph.
5. What theme do you want to photograph the most?
I m very interest in how pinhole cameras can collect a period of time, instead of just a fraction of tine (like 1/125s a normal camera does). I have been on-going photographing in long exposures, like 2-3hours kind of Length. If I must describe “my most interested subject”, I think it should be TIME itself.
6. You shot some film stills and pinhole for local magazines (in Hong Kong), what was it like?
In many Photo jobs, I often appear as an assistant. During few photo shoots, I chatted with a film director and a magazine editor, they mentioned about pinhole photography, after I showed them my website (www.martincheung.com) and they both told me to try take some shots for them.
That’s how lucky I was to have these seldom opportunities.
In these few Photo Jobs, I use the Diana Multi Pinhole, I will keep my mouth shut about how the photo looks, you see it yourself in the link. There aren’t many chances to take photos commercially with pinhole cameras. May I take this opportunity to thank Director Heiward Mak, and Editor NOVA.
7. Why do you like making your own pinhole cameras, and where do you get all the inspirations?
I guess there is a certain geniality to the object when you DIY, right? Since 1998, I have been making cameras with wood, metal, paper. Recently, I am carrying a 35mm film can everyday, going into supermarkets or department store measuring boxes! Inspiration should come from life!
8. What are you doing now? Any future plan/s?
Another thing that I have always wanted to keep doing is the duck camera in many more cities. I mean I’d like to fly to some European or Asian countries, buy a local duck from their markets, then roast the duck in hostel and make the duck cam to photograph their chinatown. Anyone know air ticket sponsors pls hook me up.
In a month’s time, I’m learning how to make roast duck from cooking class. Hopefully I can graduate from it. :)
9. You will be hosting a Pinhole Workshop on April 25th, sharing your experience in pinhole photography, can you give us a sneak peek?
Actually, I’d rather call it ‘share my experiences’ than tips and tricks. :) Basically, i will show some works by different artists including mine, talk about how they do it and hopefully can inspire our participants. There are more in this workshop, but I’d like to keep this part for the participants on the day itself!
10. Any tips for our aspiring pinhole Lomographers?
Oh! My theory is already in the 10 Lomo golden rules: Bring your camera everywhere you go! Forget about the rules!
I use them everyday. :)
Thank you Martin, and our friends from Lomography Asia who facilitated these great insights!