Hi Pinholista, please introduce yourself.
My name is Omar Martha and I’m from and live on the caribbean island of Curacao. I’ve been involved with pinhole photography for the past seven to eight years more or less.
Tell us a little about the type of pinhole photography you enjoy.
While I like trying other formats and even dabble in digital pinhole photography once in a while, my preferred way of shooting pinhole is on 4×5 film. I find the size to be a great middle point for quality and being able to shoot more shots per trip. Due to having to develop my own film (living on an island has it’s downsides) I mostly stick to shooting black and white. Admin’s note, I guess I could just about cope with not shooting colour if I lived in the Caribbean!
Do you ever shoot anything a little more unusual?
I have a couple of box and can cameras that are primarily used to shoot distorted images. I love the way everyday object can turn into completely unrecognisable shapes by manipulation of the film / photographic paper. I have also shot a couple of pinhole photographs on “polaroid”, but that quickly came to an end when Fuji discontinued FP-3000b. It was a great shame too as those experiments were done using flashes to light the subject. I was basically doing split second exposures which is something not generally associated with pinhole photography.
Do you use off the shelf cameras, home-made or a mix?
If by off the shelf you mean cameras that were designed as pinhole cameras then no, I don’t use off the shelf cameras. I do have some cameras that started life as your regular commercial lensed camera and that I converted into pinhole cameras tho. But the bulk of my photographs are taken with homemade cameras.
My favourite camera to use is my homemade very wide angle 4×5 with a graflok back. I’m quite fond of it because it’s wide angle (f=32mm) practically forces me to get in close on subjects, but also allows me to take in a large scene if I want to. By virtue of having a graflok back it also allows me to take as many shots as I have cut sheet holders for. This also makes it handy for travel as I can just load up before hand and don’t really have to worry about needing a changing bag in the field. I’ve essentially made it to be practical to move around with (quite low weight) and maximise the amount of shots I can take in any given trip.
How long have you shot pinhole?
I’ve been doing it for about seven to eight years now.
Why did you start shooting pinhole and why?
My introduction to pinhole photography came when I was doing a photography minor in college. The analog and handmade side of it quickly took hold of me and hasn’t really let go since. I stuck with it though because I feel it gives me a lot of control over what I’m photographing that would be quite hard to do with other types of photography. Admin’s note, I think this is a really interesting point. Photographers who are used to shooting with anything beyond a simple point and shoot or phone camera will be used to having control over aperture, focal length etc. I think many are scared of a lack of control with pinhole but I agree with Omar that actually pinhole offers the same, if not more, control.
You’ve given us a few images to share, tell us about them.
Yeah, the images are a grab out of my photographs the past couple of years. One of them in particular is a photograph I shot for local artist Tirzo Martha during a performance piece he was presenting.
The colour double image is a stereo pair (3D) made with a stereo populist (A simple pinhole camera designed by Nick Dvoracek). This particular image set was made with a stereo populist camera that was being sent around between a couple of participating photographers from the F295 forums. Everyone would shoot a roll or two with the camera and then would send it on to the next person.
Do you shoot individual images or do you work within themes or on projects?
I practice both of them more or less. I tend to shoot a lot of individual images that aren’t really based around anything in particular, but I’ve also shot (series of) images that had to do with a specific project or theme.
A specific theme I can mention was the celebration of 150 years of Dutch abolishment of slavery that we had last year. I was invited to participate in an exhibition in this context and have produced a diptych exploring different views on the subject. I’m currently also participating in the Next Best Thing Pinhole Project where a group of pinhole photographers spread out across the world take pictures depicting the culture and landscape of wherever they are. Admin’s note, you really should check out the Next Best Thing project (not least because I am also participating); there’s some wonderful work being shown.
Have you ever exhibited your work?
Yes, as mentioned above I was part of an exhibition celebrating 150 years of the abolishment of slavery in the Dutch kingdom. I also exhibited some photographs after a group residency program in Aruba a couple of years back.
Tell us about a great pinhole photographer.
He’s probably going to come up a couple of times in these interviews, but I really like the works of Wayne Martin Belger (boy of blue industries). His application of the vision for his project on both the camera as on his subjects has always been interesting to me. Admin’s note, if you want to check out Wayne’s work its over at boyofblue.com.
Do you shoot other styles of photography?
I also shoot conventional photography both analog and digital. It mostly depends on what I’m doing at the moment and what I’m going for.
Assuming you do shoot other styles, do you prefer pinhole and if so, why?
It totally depends really. I love the workflow of pinhole photography so I use it pretty much always unless I have a reason not to. Other than that pinhole also tends to take a longer slice out of time than more conventional forms of photography. And lastly but most importantly pinhole photography gives me freedoms that I don’t have with other processes. Being able to manipulate and distort the image in camera is something I really like being able to do.
Finally, where can people see your work, do you have a website?
Phew, well I hope you’ve enjoyed Omar’s images and the great details about his work that he’s shared. All images are, of course, his copyright and should not be used without Omar’s permission…please respect that. If you’re a pinhole photographer and would like to be featured on Pinholista then please do contact me (here); I’d love to hear from you.