World Pinhole Day: Interview with Martin Cheung, Pinhole Photography Master


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.

Duck Pinhole

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.

Film stills

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 ( 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!

Hotel Rooms

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!

written by kazarareta on 2010-04-22 in #news


  1. lawypop
    lawypop ·

    Very inspiring! Amazing stuff from a simple pinhole..DIY somemore

  2. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    soooooooo mayn and sooooo good photos! wow! impressive!

  3. stouf
    stouf ·

    Wooo he's a master for sure ! All the shots are very impressive ! And I love this idea of seeing pinhole photography as meditation... Brilliant !

  4. panelomo
    panelomo ·

    wow - you deserve an applause, man!

    ... now i want a pinhole.

  5. elletra
    elletra ·

    great interview and photos! :D

  6. coca
    coca ·

    this pictures are amazing!! love how he use the lawypop said, is very inspiring!

  7. xbalboax
    xbalboax ·

    wow amazing interview and even better shots!! what an inspiration!

  8. disdis
    disdis ·

    The pictures are so great that I had no time to read the text....

  9. kutshie
    kutshie ·

    This guy is the pinhole god! Really like his work, makes me want to go outside and pinhole everything!

  10. renaishashin
    renaishashin ·

    The master of Pinhole photography! Very inspiring! You're my idol! Haha!

  11. mcyc
    mcyc ·

    Dear All,
    This is Martin Cheung, I m very glad to receive such honor from you guys.
    I m not God, I m just a man in love with pinhole, please dont hesitate to try it, you will love it too. :-)

  12. fancholland2
    fancholland2 ·

    Great article. The pinhole is really something I want to try soon. These shots are really different and have such a nice appearance. Great work. Lomo on!

  13. janiemeringuepie
    janiemeringuepie ·

    These shots are lovely - the car journey is fantastic

  14. rater
    rater ·

    Wow, this is a very inspiring read. I have to admit that I am not a lot into pinhole, but this week I decided to shoot only pinhole in honor of he pinhole day and I have to say that I am loving it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are priceless!

  15. rodex
    rodex ·

    Loved his pictures and a great interview. Pinhole makes amazing fashion portraits!

  16. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    Still looking for my jaw. I'd wish I could come to your masterclass.

  17. ilovemydiana
    ilovemydiana ·

    very intresting

  18. paramir
    paramir ·

    no words. a master indeed.

  19. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Indeed, a pinhole master! The shots are stunning and beautiful!

  20. flashback
    flashback ·

    reading this and seeing the pics has me inspired for World Pinhole Day. great article!

  21. prettyflowers
    prettyflowers ·

    Very nice shots Martin... Amazing job.

    Now I want a pinhole camera :0)

  22. azurblue
    azurblue ·

    Gorgeous pihnoles ! I'm impressed !

  23. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

  24. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    Martin is a damn genius!

  25. tattso
    tattso ·

    What impresses me most is the quality of the photos, pinhole is seen as a primitive form of photography and Martin just demonstrates here how using simple tools can produce high-end photos which is difficult to achieve even with the the high-end cameras. Nice work man.

  26. mandi
    mandi ·

    so many amazing shots! the hotel room series is so cool!

  27. erikamentari
    erikamentari ·

    wow! i love this! diy simple photography can create stunning results! gotta get pinholing....

  28. lomodesbro
    lomodesbro ·

    A wonderful portfolio of pinholes

  29. arsenic
    arsenic ·

    im so in love!

  30. lornahaddon
    lornahaddon ·

    Very interesting article - it has inspired me to try my hand at pinhole :)

  31. lornahaddon
    lornahaddon ·

    Very interesting article - it has inspired me to try my hand at pinhole :)

  32. makeyuu
    makeyuu ·

    martin, your work is amazing. you really inspired me here.

  33. j_robert
    j_robert ·

    my mind is completely blown by a gallery that is just way too awesome! i am now speechless

  34. kylewis
    kylewis ·

    Congrats on the interview, marvelous images!

  35. maximum_b
    maximum_b ·

    Very good interview, inspiring photos!

  36. eva_eva
    eva_eva ·

    wow, martin, u are my idol!

  37. mcyc
    mcyc ·

    Thanks everyone! I will keep making pinhole images!
    May I also share with you a quote from one of my favourite photographers, Diane Arbus, "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."

  38. tattso
    tattso ·

    oh hey martin, that's also my favorite quote!

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