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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 26th, 2010 : Gregory Lancaster
My name is Gregory Lancaster, I was born and raised in Washington. I am currently living in Los Angeles where I develop film in my bathtub.

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 learned about pinhole photography in 2001 during one of my first photography classes at Washington State University. I instantly fell in love with it. The professor, Ryan Belnap, showed us a suit he had made; every aspect of the suit was a pinhole camera. The tie, the hat, the jacket, the shirt, the pants...literally everything was a camera. To say the least, I was blown away. After seeing his suit, I rarely picked up my S.L.R ever again. Even to this day it's almost painful to grab my D.S.L.R when I know I can make a pinhole photograph that will look more appealing and is a lot more fun to shoot.

Obviously Ryan Belnap is a huge influence on my work but also Marian Roth has inspired me quite a bit.  I've also been looking on flickr.com, toycamera.com, and f295.com; there is so much to see there and so much inspiration on those sites, let alone the entire Internet. Historically, I look at Louis Daguerre, William Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins.

Gregory Lancaster
gdlancaster@gmail.com
Follow me on Flickr
Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
I really enjoy the rawness and grittiness that pinhole photography gives me. I want each of my photographs to look dirty and old, like they've been around for decades. The long exposures help with accomplishing that, they give everything that old timey blur that you just can't achieve quiet right with any other type of photography. One thing I really enjoy is using a camera that has been sitting around for while. Sometime a tiny particle of dust will settle inside the pinhole and throw everything off. It's great that most of the time you only sort of know what you're getting while exposing your film. You can never be too sure of yourself with this medium.

Copyright © 2010 Gregory Lancaster
DECK
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
There are a ton of different techniques I would like to do during this next year. Mostly I would like to do different types of alternative processes. I do a lot of cyanotypes now, but would like to do some Van Dykes or Palladium printing. I also want to try out toning cyanotypes with different teas to get that really old feeling.

I've been curious about using a zone plate lately. I've only seen really beautiful photographs taken with a zone plate so I sort of want to prove to myself that it doesn't have to be that way.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
I refuse to use a pinhole camera that wasn't handmade. Every camera I have shot with was made by me or altered in some way by me, I just can't justify spending $70 or more on a camera when it's just a box with a hole in it. Building the camera is so much more rewarding to me, plus if I build a camera myself I get exactly what I want. As for films, I mostly shoot 4x5 film with an ISO of 100 or less. Lately, I've really be enjoying Ilford film, but if I find Kodak on sale I'll usually pick it up (I hate that Kodak stamps their film). Normally I develop my film in Acufine Diafine. It's really cheap, it lasts for ages and it gives a more D.I.Y feel to the negative. I have also used it to develop paper negatives and it seems to work really well with that too. My go-to process is cyanotype. It's fairly easy and you get to hang out in the sun while is develops, how could you not love it?
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
Pinhole photography lets me express how I see things, or a least how I wish I could see things, better that any other form of photography. It also gives me time to relax; I find it peaceful exposing the negatives. It gives me a chance to slow down and really look at what I'm shooting. If I have really long exposures, it gives me time to think of other things going on in my life too. I've worked out a great deal of personal issues by just going out and exposing film and thinking about what I should be doing about a situation.
 
Final Thoughts: Greg's work is a fresh reminder that pinhole photography can be fun, adventurous, and simultaneously creative. Learn more about his work at www.flickr.com.

- BJK, February 2010.