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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.

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!

written by kazarareta


  1. lawypop


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. mephisto19


    soooooooo mayn and sooooo good photos! wow! impressive!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. 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 !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. panelomo


    wow - you deserve an applause, man!

    ... now i want a pinhole.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. elletra


    great interview and photos! :D

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. coca


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. xbalboax


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. disdis


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. kutshie


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. renaishashin


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. 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. :-) Martin
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. 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!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. janiemeringuepie


    These shots are lovely - the car journey is fantastic
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. 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!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. rodex

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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. breakphreak


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. ilovemydiana


    very intresting

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. paramir


    no words. a master indeed.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. vicuna


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. flashback


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  21. prettyflowers


    Very nice shots Martin... Amazing job.

    Now I want a pinhole camera :0)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  22. azurblue


    Gorgeous pihnoles ! I'm impressed !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  23. mephisto19


    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  24. wil6ka


    Martin is a damn genius!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  25. 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.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  26. mandi


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  27. erikamentari


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  28. lomodesbro


    A wonderful portfolio of pinholes

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  29. arsenic


    im so in love!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  30. lornahaddon

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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  31. lornahaddon

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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  32. makeyuu


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  33. j_robert


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  34. kylewis


    Congrats on the interview, marvelous images!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  35. maximum_b


    Very good interview, inspiring photos!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  36. eva_eva


    wow, martin, u are my idol!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  37. 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."
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  38. tattso


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

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