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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.

March 26th, 2010 : Stanislav Sedlák
My name is Stanislav Sedlák, I was born and still live in Prague, Czech Republik. I hardly made any photos before the digital age. Then I discovered pinhole photography. I do not regard myself as a photographer and less as an artist, I am an enthusiast. I develop my negatives in my friend's bathroom.
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 heard about pinhole photography in 2004 when I walked into the interesting website of— the site that is quoted by many when speaking of camera design or pinhole size calculation. I was amazed by the remarkable results that can be achieved by such technique and I tried to build my own camera from a coffee tin box and loaded it with photo paper.

I tried to find as much as possible about that interesting technique, so I read through hundreds and hundreds of pages looking for more information. I have to mention one of the most comprehensive: Pinhole Photography - History, Images, Cameras, Formulas by Jon Grepstad. Inspiration for me was, among many others, pictures shared on site by many remarkable pinholers or discussions at excellent

I was always attracted by the beauty of polished brass and mahogany boxes, but soon I realized that it is not that which makes a good picture. A light-tight and mechanically stable box, together with an appropriate pinhole, is all that is needed. I love to make my own pinhole cameras; I experimented with matchbox pinhole cameras, converted 35mm and roll film pinhole cameras, but most I like the large format pinhole loaded with photo paper. It gave me the possibility to witness the magic moment of a slowly appearing picture in a tray of developer.

Stanislav Sedlák
Email me Follow me on Flickr
Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
It is the simplicity of the device in contrast with the results that often cannot be achieved by technically sophisticated cameras today.
It is the old-fashioned process that slows me down, gives me time to think about the picture. We never think so carefully about the picture when our camera has a bottomless memory card or a fresh roll of film.

Copyright © 2010 Stanislav SedlÁk
Orthodox Church in Krasnodar
home made Tchibo coffee tin box camera, Medix XG x-ray film 10x15 cm, exposure time 4 seconds

see it on flickr
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I dream about historical methods of printing: Van Dyke, cyanotypes, and others, that give the pinhole picture an even more old-fashioned look, but I am afraid that I will hardly find time for it.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
I found my own way of making pinholes. Instead of slowly and painfully sanding a soda can metal sheet, I burn the tiny hole by an electrical spark into thin aluminium foil. It is efficient and fast. I can make lot of pinholes in short time that way. If some are not perfect, I simply discard it.

I like using X-ray film in my cameras. I started learning the art of pinholing with a camera loaded with photo paper, which was easy to process under a red light in the darkroom. Still I regard the moment of developing as very magical. X-ray film integrates the advantages of both film and paper into one. It has a higher sensitivity of film and yet it is red light friendly. Since I have tested some samples given to me by my friend, I do not use anything else. I am no alchemist and so I am very pleased that I can use the same chemicals like before.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
I think I have mentioned that. Pinhole photography allows me to rid myself of all the hi-tech stuff that is all around us today. In my job I work with hi-tech devices and I travel a bit. I like taking home an exposed sheet of film that I can later develop when I am home again. It is a great adventure with a nice moment of surprise. Until the last moment I do not know the result, I can only guess. I believe that pinhole photography, in contrast to other things around us, has a soul.
Final Thoughts: Stanislav's no-frills approach to pinhole photography is, in fact, what helps him produce wonderful images. He intentionally removes the technology from his camera and creative toolkit to get closer to the real meaning of image-making. Review his Flickr account for more images that embody the subjective terms of "old-world" or "old-fashioned".

- BJK, March 2010.