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Take 5 Interview
The Take 5 Interview series is a continuation of featuring selected pinhole artists from around the planet. Each artist is asked a set of five questions that will shed light on their persona, their portfolio, and their creative take on this intriguing art form called pinhole photography. All questions are derived by Brian J. Krummel and answered by the respective artist in their own words.

February 12th, 2010 : Jennifer Schlesinger-Hanson
My name is Jennifer Schlesinger and I work in Santa Fe, New Mexico as an artist and Gallery Director of Verve Gallery of Photography. I am also co-founder of Flash Flood, an online media collective that promotes photography and photographers from, about and of New Mexico.

When did you first get interested in pinhole photography and how long have you been practicing this art form? List any creative influences that have shaped your own personal style.
I first became inspired to pick up a pinhole camera for a serious body of work when we showed Martha Casanave's series, Imaginary Coastlines, at Verve Gallery a few years ago. About a year ago, after speaking with Martha about the process, her camera and her work, then meeting Eric Renner from the Pinhole Resource from Southern New Mexico, I purchased my first large format pinhole camera from Eric. I had used my own handmade cameras in the past to experiment, also teaching students this process from elementary school to college ages. But I was formally inspired by Martha's work to use the pinhole for my new series. Historically, I have always been inspired by the Pictorialists, Edward Steichen and Julia Margaret Cameron.

For the series, Object Diaspora, I have photographed sacred objects that have belonged to someone else in an attempt to merge the memory and the spirit of the person in which the object originally belonged to, with the person whose possession it now resides, placing the sacred object into a new milieu. Like people who migrate from one country to another looking to begin a new life, these objects travel, get placed in a new environment and become part of the new culture they belong to. We breathe our spirit into these objects, and we use them with the spirit of the person who gave them to us, they become an “Object Diaspora.”

Jennifer Schlesinger-Hanson
jfsfoto04@yahoo.com
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Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
The first and foremost inspiring attributes of the pinhole camera that I was drawn to was the ease of doing long exposures, soft focus and the distorted views. I chose the pinhole camera for my Object Diaspora series because I am trying to capture the essence of the person I am photographing, which involves movement in order to attain a sort of 'spirit' figure. I have worked with long exposures long before my recent use of the pinhole camera, but I wanted the combination of soft focus, wide angle, and movement all in one camera and this did the trick.

Since a lot of the Objects I am photographing tend to be old, and sometimes timeless, it felt appropriate to use a camera that was old and timeless as well. The idea of the camera obscura, an image created by just a tiny aperture, is so basic to the discovery of photography, and that is what intrigues me most about pinhole photography.

Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Schlesinger-Hanson
Object Diaspora #18
2009
9" x 7"
edition of 12
gelatin silver print
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I have just begun to hone the exposures and get very familiar with my camera in the past 6 months. Now I am focusing on my inspiration to make new images for this series. I am concentrating on an exhibition I am having of this work in May.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
The camera I purchased from Pinhole Resource is a Leonardo 4" x 5" large format, 1.5" Focal Length camera. I use Tri-X 320 4" x 5" film, and I print with Dektol developer 1:1. I print on 8" x 10" Foma paper and selenium tone.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
In an age of technology advancement, I am more and more drawn to the more simpler and traditional tools of photography. I have experimented with digital technologies and find that my true passions around photography are the magic of film, and printing in the darkroom, rather than sitting in front of a computer to make my art. I find the most intriguing characteristic of photography is the magic that takes place from analogue tools, because in essence, the photographer is in control of the final image, not a computer. That isn't to say I don't appreciate work made on or from a computer because I do, but not for my own work.
 
Final Thoughts: Jennifer's recent series Object Diaspora is a haunting collection of images provoking memory and nostalgia. Like many pinhole artists, she perfectly manipulates exposure time to compliment her subject matter. Learn more about her work at www.jenniferschlesinger.com.

- BJK, February 2010.