Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.
My name is Monika. I am living in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.
Primarily black and white, always film. I do my own b&w printing, and quite a lot of the work that goes into my images happens in the darkroom.
Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual?
No, aside form the occasional multiple exposure.
Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?
My first pinhole was a really nice wooden 4×5 camera, that I purchased off the shelf. Then I bought a Holga, which I didn’t care for – so I turned it into a pinHolga by modifying it. I also have an off the shelf pinHolga (120 PC).
What’s your favourite camera to use and why?
At the moment I like my pinHolga, partly because it takes roll film (which I have developed at a lab). I don’t have much time right now to be developing film, and I prefer to spend my darkroom time printing. Also, early on I had made some lovely polaroid shots in the 4×5 – it’s been hard to replicate that look and so far the pinHolga comes closest. Admin’s note, getting that classic Polaroid look is a bit of a holy grail these days. In my experience the IP film is getting there, but its not there yet. Of course, the 4×5 was peel apart and whilst the Fuji film is great its a different look (IMHO).
How long have you shot pinhole?
It’s been nearly 10 years now.
Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?
Before I got into pinhole, I was shooting botanicals with a large format 4×5 camera. My images were feeling very static to me and I wanted a change. Besides that, I’m an engineer for a living, and I’m probably a little bit of a control freak. I thought it would be a good idea to stretch myself, and shoot something where I couldn’t preview the image. Admin’s note, not sure if its just me but it feels like a lot of pinhole photographers have a scientific, engineering or technical background. I must explore that more.
At first I tried shooting detailed things, but I didn’t like how they came out. I had recently moved to Seattle, and tried photographing clouds and water – and totally fell in love with pinhole images of these subjects. Now I’m always watching the sky or how light falls on water, even when I don’t have my camera with me.
Now that I know my cameras so well, I pretty much know how to compose an image, and how to expose it. I can spend my time reacting to a scene instead of fiddling with gear. I still carry a tripod though! Admin’s note, in some circles this is known as “Using the force” and it is cool and to be admired.
You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them.
These are all from a project that I think of as urban landscapes. For the most part, I am photographing in Seattle’s parks, and most images include elements of water and/or clouds.
The image with the sun rings was a happy accident. I wasn’t paying to attention that the sun was breaking trough the clouds at the time. I was using my camera that I had converted form a Holga and the pinhole is made from a foil pan. Apparently light flare shows up as circles, which I rather like. Admin’s note, I recall an interesting e-mail exchange with another couple of pinhole photographers who have evidence that the material impacts the way flares appear. I must post about that as well…so much to do, so little time!
Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?
I generally work on a project, although if I’m in a rut I try to shoot something new to stretch my mind. My primary project is shooting in the parks in Seattle – urban landscapes that most often have clouds and/or water as elements in the image. For a separate project, I spent over a year at the Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle.
Have you ever exhibited your work?
I’ve shown in various group shows, mostly juried, mostly in Washington State. RayKo Photo in San Fransisco, CA holds a pinhole show every few years and I’ve been part of that. I currently have a pinhole photo in a group show called The Meaning of Wood at the Washington State Convention Center.
Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.
View Camera Magazine had a feature on Martha Casanave’s pinhole work several years ago – her work is gorgeous and that feature was part of what inspired me to try out pinhole photography. Admin’s note, this is what I love about running this site, I discover new photographers through my contributors. Thank you Monika, Martha’s images are beautiful.
Do you shoot other styles of photography?
I have a Bronica medium format camera that I enjoy using. My 4×5 is on hiatus, but when the time is right I’ll become reacquainted with it.
Assuming you do shoot other styles, do you prefer pinhole and if so, why?
It depends on what I’m shooting. If I’m really excited about the details in something, I’ll use the Bronica. But for the urban landscape work that I enjoy (where a key element is clouds and or water) I prefer the pinhole. I like how it changes an everyday scene to something a little mysterious or ephemeral.
Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?
As always, I must thank Monika (and all Pinholistas) for sharing their images, which are absolutely beautiful. I hope you have enjoyed these images as much as I have, and of course the insights into Monika’s reasons for shooting pinhole and her approach. If you’d like to contribute in a similar vein then please do contact me here. All images are copyright Monika D. and should not be used in any form without prior permission.