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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.

May 7th, 2010 : Rebecca Sexton Larson
Rebecca Sexton Larson is an artist based in Tampa, FL.
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 originally went to school to become a painter, while working toward my degree I started to explore photography, specifically hand-colored photographs. I soon began hand-coloring images printed from 2 1/4 negatives. Within two years, I realized I really wanted to work on large photographs— 40" x 30" size prints. In order to do bigger pieces I needed a larger negative. I understood I needed a 4 x5 negative to produce the size print I desired, but being right out of school, I really couldn't justify purchasing a 4 x 5 system. A little research led me to articles on pinhole photography and the work of Martha Casanave, Pinky Bass, Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer. I had that awe ha moment where the little light bulb goes off in your head, so I purchased a wooden 4x5 pinhole camera that held a 4x5 film back ... and I've never looked back.

Rebecca Sexton Larson
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Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
The reason I believe pinhole image making is right for me is really two-fold ... first, pinhole photography allows me to be free of the technical limitations imposed by traditional cameras. I can concentrate on the creation of the image and story without getting bogged down with details of using lenses, shutter speeds, f-stops, etc. Secondly, I'm especially drawn to the ethereal qualities I get from using pinhole cameras and there is definitely something to be said for using a camera without a viewfinder—I love serendipitous results I get with the cropping and tilts.

Copyright © 2010 rebecca sexton larson
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Hand painted pinhole photo. (Film: Polaroid P/N 55 Camera: Tide box)

Collection of Graham Nash
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
P/N 55 is no longer available, I have started to rethink my approach as to how I use photography as the base of my working process. In addition, I've always been interested in paper negatives. Just this past month, I recently attended a workshop with Dan Estabrook in Pittsburgh on making Calotype negatives and that has opened my mind to new possibilities for me that I would like to explore. I have so many ideas running through my head at this point—that is good!
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
I own a wide range of cameras in addition to constructing my own cameras out of everyday objects found around my house. In the past I have worked almost exclusively with Polaroid P/N 55 film. P/N 55 saved me a lot of time in the shooting process. I have had times in the past where I have spent half a day setting up and shooting a still life in the studio only to find out that once the image was processed, is not exactly what I had expected. I liked that P/N 55 allowed me to see what I was shooting quickly and allowed me to make the needed adjustments without having to process the film—saving valuable time.

As far as printing, I am fortunate to have a darkroom that was designed to produce large prints. My Bessler enlarger tilts back and I project onto a 'cork' wall where I hang black and white fiber mural paper. I built a large sink that holds troughs for chemicals. Best of all, everything is constructed to my height.

All of my photographs are one-of-a-kind and hand-painted with Marshall oils.

Copyright © 2010 rebecca sexton larson
A collection of rebecca's pinhole box cameras.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
I have been making and using pinhole cameras for over twenty years and I am still fascinated by how basic image making can be. I've always thought of the pinhole process a tool for me, and simply a foundation for my artwork—not the end all. For me, the soft dreamy characteristics of pinhole are seamless and well suited to become paintings. I see pinhole forever in my future and always a part of my process.
 
Final Thoughts: From an observer's point of view, Rebecca's work consists of equal parts memory, myth, and magic. Her mixed-media approach to creating artwork reminds me of the layered textures of a musical composition. Just like all of the artists featured in this interview series, Rebecca reminds us once again that you do not need a sophisticated camera to make an awe-inspiring photograph.

- BJK, May 2010.