Justin Quinnell - The Pinhole Wizard

2011-04-19 19

Justin Quinnell is a master at making weird and wondrous pinhole photographs – He recently worked as the Pinhole consultant for the movie ‘The Brothers Bloom’ and his cameras are featured in the film. We took the opportunity to talk to him about his Hollywood experience and fascination for pinhole photography.

Louis (Getting to know Dad)

How did you first get introduced to the world of Pinhole photography?

I’m not sure if this has much relevance but when I was 4 I had several operations on my eyes to sort out something. I remember having a patch on one eye with a small hole to see through. I also remember a fairly unsuccessful experiment when I was at school. It was well after my degree however that I got hooked. I was head of the photography department at a non-too affluent area of Bristol, the kids couldn’t afford cameras, (but could afford several cans of coke every day) so I got them to make cameras out of their drink cans and got hooked myself. It was all pre Internet, so apart from the pinhole journal and a few obscure magazines I didn’t know anyone else who was doing that kind of work.


What is it about Pinhole Photography which most fascinates you?

There is no view finder, it clashes art and science after a 150 year schism, a lot happens in pre-visualising 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, and it’s anti-commercial. I am involved with the Green Party and was getting disillusioned with photography and the amount of destruction it can cause – pin-holing gets around this.

It’s also delving into the unknown, a bit like riding a unicycle – It feels like you are constantly falling, I quite like that!


We hear you worked on the recent film ‘The Brothers Bloom’ as ‘Pinhole Consultant’ – Could you tell us a little about it?

I had a phone call from Belgrade whilst on a train from University of Falmouth where I teach part time. It was from a researcher who said the writer and director of a film wanted to use my photos. My brother had just died so I didn’t really know what it was about until a few weeks later I found myself emailing with Rian Johnson. I ended up in CA with my family for a month and having a ball! The film is great but a few of the pinhole bits got edited from the UK version. Its release was also delayed for ages, which didn’t help. His next film ‘Looper’ has Bruce Willis, no pinhole though!

Two of Justin’s Pinhole cameras which feature in the film ‘The Brothers Bloom’

What’s your favourite Pinhole photo you’ve ever taken?

The Royal Crescent – Bath. It was one of my first successful colour images and taken in 1991 when you had to wait for 4 days till your film was processed! The one I’m most sorry didn’t come out was a mouth photo of my son Louis when he was being born.

Royal Crescent – Bath

Any tips for people new to Pinhole photography?

Don’t think too much, just do stuff.

What do you do when you’re not taking photos?

Family stuff (I have a beautiful wife and two equally fab kiddies), bird watching, slobbing around in a pub, mending the leaks in our motor home! (usual stuff!). Currently I am trying to get a slipped disc sorted. (The MRI scan almost messed up due to a pinhole camera I had in my pocket!)

Clifton Suspension Bridge

See more amazing Pinhole photos by Justin on his website

World Pinhole Day is on Sunday! Read more about it here

Want to learn how to make a Pinhole camera at home? Watch this video featuring Justin!

written by tomas_bates on 2011-04-19 #quinnell #lensless #justin #interview #wizard #photography #lifestyle #pinhole-masters-and-magic


  1. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    This man is a legend!

  2. kylewis
    kylewis ·

    Video isn't showing Tomas!
    I met Justin some years ago now and he was charming amusing and did a kick ass workshop!

  3. kwakken
    kwakken ·

    I will definitely try this!

  4. nihil28
    nihil28 ·


  5. zynneh
    zynneh ·

    I love this guy! :)

  6. sebby
    sebby ·

    in my photography class we talk about him. He's got his own style, its awesome.

  7. reminator
    reminator ·

    love it

  8. mhgrobler
    mhgrobler ·

    This guy is amazing. I just love him

  9. lenire
    lenire ·

    i have his book. its awesome

  10. avocado-in-a-world-of-cucumbers
    avocado-in-a-world-of-cucumbers ·

    I need to get his book.
    I love pinhole photography so much! The fact that you can make a camera out of literally anything blows my mind. I've made one out of can before but I need to try out some other material.

  11. fenella
    fenella ·

    Mmmm very interesting

  12. jasiehasie
    jasiehasie ·

    Wow. I dont even read all that much but Justin Quinnell has made it worth it! He is brilliant!

  13. aizatuddinaniq
    aizatuddinaniq ·


  14. evnka
    evnka ·

    " a bit like riding a unicycle – It feels like you are constantly falling, I quite like that!" I like that too!

  15. kitija
    kitija ·

    wow, so interesting.

  16. eyeballin
    eyeballin ·


    His solarography is just beaut

  17. gemmasphotos
    gemmasphotos ·

    I'm a photography student at Falmouth uni and I met him last october, he helped all of with pinholes! He's awesome XD These are some of my attempts if you're interested :D

  18. michai8
    michai8 ·

    these are gorgeous....

  19. ghj
    ghj ·

    i just jizzed to these pics

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