We recently caught up with one of our favorite pinhole photographers, Martin Cheung – Read on to find out what he’s been up to and see some examples of his stunning work!
First off, why pinhole photography? What is it about the medium which most attracts you?
In 1997, during my first year study, the school organized a 1 day pinhole workshop for our class. We learnt to convert a Biscuit Can into a pinhole camera by using a needle to make the “lens” – This was a big contrast from our daily practice where we focused on 4×5 technical cameras, lighting, zone system etc. After this workshop, I ignored the pinhole medium for a while, as I thought pinhole was too easy and too low-tech for me; I almost felt that it’s useless.
However, later on (half a year or so later), I began not believing in photography as reality anymore and I tried to make different types of pinhole cameras with different materials. After failing many times, I realized that the accidental part of pinhole photography was what I was looking for. Also, due to the long exposures, I slowed down and stopped hunting – This meditative and uncertain way of photographing is what attracts me most.
For those who have never shot pinhole or are just starting out, what would your first piece of advice be?
For those who have no dark room and wish to try pinhole photography, I suggest they try using a DSLR or micro 4/3 cameras, to make a pinhole conversion. Just simply replace the lens with a pinhole on the camera – This is an easy way to start.
You once created a great pinhole camera from a roast duck….why a duck?
The Duck Cam is 10 years old now (I first made it in 2001) – I guess most people know me through this work and I’ve spoken about it many times already. But to cut it short, I was a waiter in a Chinese restaurant in China Town while studying in Melbourne. During this time, I wondered how a Roast Duck sees China Town, so then I did the Duck Cam. If you have time, check out my website www.martincheung.com to see my artist statement.
Have you got any pinhole projects coming up that you can tell us about?
Recently, my friend Michael and I have started Shanghai Street Studios, we hold pinhole camera and candle making workshops there. The core idea of this space is to create a visual map of the local scene by using pinhole photography and purchase 2nd hand material from the local area, so this area can be preserved.
Another important piece of news is that I’m having an exhibition in Muji Atelier Gallery from August to November, showing my paper folding pinhole cameras. Don’t miss it if you are in Hong Kong.
If you could take a pinhole photograph of one subject, who or what would it be and why?
I would love to photograph the Earth from the Universe, because I want to see the Earth spin in this long exposure photo.
Have you got a personal favorite photo that you took which you could show us? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite photos are photos of my girlfriend Topaz.
Why are these photos my favorites? Because she is my favorite.
How do you work out how long to expose a pinhole shot for?
Actually, I have an exposure time in mind every time before I shoot, but using a light meter can make me feel more secure. Usually, the light meter’s reading is a guideline, by experience, I add or subtract the exposure. About 3 years ago, I was still carrying a light meter with me, but since there’s a light meter app on iphone, my light meter is always in my drawer now.