World Pinhole Photography Day is just around the corner. Need a quick inspiration for your pinhole stills? Take a hint from Deanna Witman as she shares with us a thing or two about her pinhole photography.
If you’re a pinhole fanatic and you still haven’t checked out DM Witman’s work then we highly suggest you hurry and click here. We got in touch with the artist herself and asked her a thing or two about her creative process. Read on to see what she has in store for us.
You may get this question in a lot on interviews but still we’d like to ask: how and when did you start shooting on film?
I jumped into photography when it was film based, digital didn’t exist yet. I landed my first point and shoot 35mm camera when I was 10 years old from selling greeting cards door-to-door in my neighborhood.
What makes analogue photography special for you? Is there anything specific about shooting on film that makes it particularly stand out?
When working with analogue, there is an element of time involved- the time between exposing the film and development, processing, and printing that I find useful in my creative process.
Do you shoot digital? What makes your approach to shooting with film different from shooting with digital?
Of course! But I haven’t yet arrived at the place where it has become a primary means of working in my long term projects. It certainly is a different way to work when you can immediately see what you are doing versus no viewfinder and no preview with a pinhole camera.
You’re obviously a pinhole photography enthusiast. In that light, what pops into your head when you’re making your shots? What comes into mind when you peek into the viewfinder or compose your shots?
Hmmm… I do love working with pinholes. There is such freedom in simplicity. My way of working is very experiential. While I am out in the woods, I am inspired by the feeling and experience, very much without words which leads me to cover my body in moss, or to hang from a tree. The planning phase of my excursions comes into play in determining how/where to set myself and the camera, how many bungee cords that might take to secure things, and whether or not I brought enough bug spray for the day.
We really like the fairy tale world effect of your photographs. What are the things that you’re trying to communicate with your wispy stills?
Each image is different, but overall my interests in making can be found in ideas of ephemerality and metamorphosis, symbiosis, biology, connections, and earthly consequence.
We’re curious about your creative process. For you, what is the most important phase in your work? How does it relate to your final piece?
I would have to say that the entire process is equally important- from the initial experience of exposing the film and the time until the film is processed, and then the scanning and editing phases to reach the final physical print. The image object does not exist without all of these phases.
Reading your thoughts about your work, it appears to be that an introspective is recognizable. What part of you are you putting in your work?
Yes that is true, something deep, almost unknowable, but I can never quite find the words to adequately describe this, which is probably why I work with images and not words.
Let us veer into photographic gear, what kinds of pinhole cameras do you use to take these cinematic stills?
For this body of work, I have used one camera to date- a Zero Image 4×5. I’ve had this camera for probably 10 years, and it looks like it has had quite the experience out “in the field”. It has held up through falls from trees, being dropped in water, and all kinds of weather conditions. I love this camera!
What do you want your audience to take with them when they look at your work?
I hope for someone to lose themselves, that they are overcome in some way, and that the experience and images linger with him or her.
Do you have personal rules that you apply to your own work? Please share them with our readers.
I don’t really give myself any rules- I would ignore them anyway.
What is your take on photography as a form of art?
Isn’t it the only art form now? Hahahaha… Just kidding. Maybe you shouldn’t print that.
Which artists inspire you in your work? Any artists that we should follow?
There are authors and artists whom I find myself drawn to. I can lose myself in the words of authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mary Oliver. The visual artists whom I gravitate to are all over the place and range from JMW Turner to Odilon Redon and Leonora Carrington to Atget, Sommer, Sugimoto, Masao Yamamoto, Emmet Gowin, Adam Fuss, Marco Breuer, Sophie Calle.
Given the chance to collaborate with any artist or photographer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
Oh my goodness that is a difficult question! That answer could probably change on any given day. But today I will say Sophie Calle. She is brilliant.
Have you ever tried Lomo cameras? Any favorite Lomo camera worth mentioning? What do you like about it?
Of course! I always keep a few Holgas in my arsenal as well as a favorite MF Diana. The Diana is probably the one I use most because I can easily remove the lens to reveal the pinhole. I also just came into a Lubitel which I am dying to try out!
What’s next for DM Witman?
I am gearing up for some major production of work. I have a number of exhibitions forthcoming in the next two years, so I need to get busy!
Any last words?
Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you!
Thank you for the opportunity to share my work. It’s been my pleasure.
You can see more of Deanna Witman’s work on her website. All photos used in this article are copyright of the artist. The artist has approved the use of her photos by Lomography for this interview.
Liked this interview? Check out these Lomography sit-downs with other great artists:
A Quick Chat With Lindsey Lee
A Quick Chat With Susan Burnstine
A Quick Chat With Lauren Field
An Interview with Film Photographer Julia Tröndle
Lomography Chats with Illustrator-Lomographer Irina Shepel