Although already equipped with a degree in Photography, Justin Quinnell got into pinhole photography a little over a decade ago, when he became the Head of Photography while teaching in a college in Bristol, United Kingdom, a time when "one person would have a fully manual Zenith B beside another with a fully automatic camera. " We've had interviews with Justin in the Magazine through the years, and one thing hasn't changed: his enthusiasm for pinhole photography.
It’s interesting to know that the British pinhole master and lecturer may have experienced" pinhole photography when he was only four years old. Due to several eye operations, Justin had to wear a patch on one eye with only a small hole to see through. This symbolic experience has since progressed into a passion and field of expertise, which has inspired pinhole aficionados from all over.
According to Justin, many of his students could not afford to buy cameras, but “could afford loads of cans of Coke every day” which they turned into functional cameras. It was then that got hooked, which coincided with his involvement in environmental politics, making him question the purpose of his own photographic passions. In complementary fashion, things fell into place.
We are fortunate to have Justin share some of his pinhole photos and projects over the years, as well as his personal views on pinhole photography.
What do you love most about pinhole photography?
There is no view finder, it clashes art and science after a 150 schism, a lot happens in pre-visualizing the images, elements of time, astronomy, wonder etc, etc, etc, (This is what I go on about for hours in my lectures!).
It’s also cheap, anti-commercial and its feels like delving into the unknown, a bit like riding a unicycle, its feels like you are constantly falling, I quite like that!
Kindly share with us pinhole photography projects/cameras that you are most proud of.
I’ve done loads from installing cameras onto ships cruising around the Caribbean to taking photos of my kids being born from inside my mouth. Right now I’m quite excited about an exhibition of brand-new work being inflicted onto the good folk of Bristol in May.
Awfullogrammes is a brand new pinhole technique I invented which will revolutionize photography and be the biggest thing since the light sensitive chip.
Kindly share with us pinhole photographs that you are most proud of, and tell us about the images.
I wouldn’t say I’m proud of the photos I take, pinhole photos feels too distant to take much credit for light travelling in a straight line but I was pleased with selling next doors wheelie Bin to the Royal Photographic Society a few years ago! I do like some though. Here are a few that haven’t been seen much
What do you think is it about pinhole photography that makes enthusiasts like you pursue it?
The answer to this could go on for hours (and frequently does!) We live in a technological age where any requirement for comprehending how things work has been removed. People like knowing and seeing how things work, such as the magic of light forming an image through a hole. Also in education, at every level, from primary to degree, people are looking for ways away from screens and to ‘play with space’, opportunities to take risks and learn from accidents.
It also helps that the cameras cost £21,995 less than a Leica SP-2!
What advice or inspiration would you impart to people who have yet to try pinhole photography?
Stop finding excuses to spend money, just empty a beer can and have fun! Even pinholes on DSLRs can be fun (especially when using flash).
How long have you been celebrating World Pinhole Photography Day and what activities have you implemented previously?
Since its inception in 2001. I try to do a free event every year to enable as many people to take part as is possible. In the past I have commandeered cinemas, a cave, a scrap yard, a boat but my favorite were taken on my 50th birthday two years ago. All the images= were taken after midnight on the morning of Pinhole Day and are suitably blurred!
Please tell us about the preparations you’ve made for World Pinhole Photography Day 2014 and what makes it special for you this year.
I’m doing 3 x free workshops at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. A fab place (although I think the workshops are full, check the Clifton Bridge website. Pinhole day happens on the last Sunday in April which is always a busy time. This year my birthday is the day before and the day after I drive down to Cornwall to do a week long workshop for Falmouth University. Then it’s back for the installation of the Awfullogramme exhibition followed by standing in the local elections for the Green Party (it’ll be the 21st time I have lost!).
Any last words?
Pinholeday – Be part of something big (through something very small!)
You can read more about Justin Quinnell on his website.
Lomography sends Justin Quinnell best wishes on his birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Justin!
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