OK, so I completely forgot to write an introduction when I first posted this. I’d love to provide an excuse but it is clearly creeping decrepitude…anyway, I’m proud to introduce Jeff McConnell, of NJ, USA, as this week’s featured Pinholista. I must admit when I saw Jeff’s street shots I cursed a little as this is something I’ve tried a number of times with limited success. I really like the theme of movement that flows through each of Jeff’s images. I hope you enjoy them too.
Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.
I’m Jeff McConnell, and for about 10 years now I’ve lived near the west edge of New Jersey – surrounded by farms but close enough to commute in to NYC. I grew up in North Carolina and I’ve lived all around this land.
Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.
When I started using pinhole cameras, I was already in a fairly slow mode, photographing on the street in Philadelphia with flea market lenses and a 2×3 view camera. Most of the work I’ve done since then, whether in urban settings or out in the country, might best be described as landscapes. The wide format I chose for my cameras feeds into that as well. In the last year, since I’ve started working on photography again after a kid-and-job-inspired hiatus of five or six years, I am changing my perspective a bit, trying different formats and cameras.
Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual?
Nope, nothing stranger than my usual curvy-back 120-film panoramas. Admin’s note, I think I may need to be a little more specific about what is unusual…but then I guess on a pinhole website a 120-film curvy-back panoramic camera is “Usual”
Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?
At first, and for a long time, all the pinhole work I did was with one of a series of cameras I made that followed a similar design. Each new version leaked less light than the one before it. And that was fine, until this year. I started feeling limited using the same format all the time. Since August I’ve converted an old Agfa Clack and a Hawkeye Brownie to pinhole, built 2 new 6×6 cameras from scratch, and bought a Zero 2000 camera. Now I just need more time to photograph, so I can decide which ones to keep.
What’s your favourite camera to use and why?
At this point I’m diverging from habit, exploring again. But in general I prefer the ones I made, especially the 6×12 curved film camera. I know how it sees. Admin’s note, I think most Pinholista have a favourite camera…I know I do, but I still want to shoot with more!
When did you start shooting pinhole and why?
Back in 1999 I was looking at some panoramic photos by Josef Sudek, and they inspired me to build my first camera. I had never really wanted to do pinhole up to that point, because I didn’t want to have to run into the darkroom every time I opened the shutter. Then I got interested in what kinds of images i might get with a curved film plane, and i was off and running.
You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them.
- Akihabara, Tokyo: I liked how that guy was standing still in a sea of people.
- Hunting Blind, North Carolina: found while driving 2-lane blacktop on a trip south.
- Canal Street, NYC: gotta love Canal Street.
- Early steps: camera test in my driveway, my daughter testing her legs.
- Krankie’s Coffee, Old Salem, NC: coffee is important. Admin’s note…yes, this is true!
- Brooklyn Bridge Park: there’s this great bridge you can walk, over the freeways, from Brooklyn Heights down to the water. And that woman in black stayed there long enough to be in my picture.
Admin’s note, images are posted in order…should be fairly easy to identify!
Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?
I cast a wide net. For me photography is an excuse to notice. I keep my eyes open and catch the pictures when I can. It’s fun to notice patterns in the images over time, and knowing what worked in the past definitely informs my process. But I don’t go looking for anything specific.
Have you ever exhibited your work?
This last September I put up a show in North Carolina. That was the first one so far. It was great to see them printed big, talking to each other on the wall. Hopefully more chances will come soon!
Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.
I’ll give a shout-out to Stefan Killen, whose site pinholeny.com shows some of the great work he’s made in New York City over the last twenty years.
Do you shoot other styles of photography?
I started with 35mm, processing my own film, and though I don’t do much of that anymore, I won’t give up the equipment. I have a few simple 120 lens cameras; lately the one I like best is an old Lubitel TLR I bought from a soldier at a flea market in Poland. In the end the style doesn’t turn out that different – no matter the tool, it’s still me using it.
Assuming you do shoot other styles, do you prefer pinhole and if so, why?
It really depends on the situation. Frequently I do choose the pinhole camera, since I can look at the resulting image and see the time that passed, and I like that. At other times the light is too low, or I want to stop the action (or see the people, which often won’t happen with pinhole exposure times.) Each tool to its own purpose.
Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?
Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your work with pinholista.com.
Thanks for the feature! And big big thanks for running this site!
My thanks to Jeff for introducing his work, which I hope you all enjoyed. Don’t forget to get in touch if you would like to be featured. All works are copyright of Jeff McConnell, please respect this!