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.
July 2nd, 2010 : Paul Jones
I'm Paul Jones, born and raised in CT, USA. My background and formal training is in photography. I was a commercial/industrial photographer for a diverse corporation based in Norwalk, CT for nearly 20 years until the late 90's. Since then I have freelanced in photography and various forms of woodworking. I am currently working as a shift supervisor for Whole Foods in Westport, CT and still do some freelance photography. I exhibit widely throughout the area and devote my free time to taking pinhole photographs and building my cameras.
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.
My first brush with pinhole photography was while I was at RISD in the early 70's. One class assignment was to design and build an educational toy. I decided to build a multi-focal length pinhole camera kit. It was an enjoyable project and an eye-opener to what pinhole could do but back then I was still trying to be the second A. Adams and pursued pinhole no further. It was not until 2004 while on a trip to Paris I brought along a, then newly purchased and untried, Zero 2000 as my only camera. On returning home and seeing the results I became an ardent pinhole photographer. Since then I have used no other camera for my personal work.
A short list of people whose work I greatly admire and who have certainly influenced my work would include my father, Minor White, Diane Arbus, Jerry Ulseman and a dear friend, Henry Jaffe. On the technical and informational side of pinhole I would have to say finding Jon Grepstad was the single most influential discovery.
Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
Everything about pinhole photography appeals to me. My background as a corporate/industrial photographer really started to infect my personal work. I started trying to control every shot I took. Well, working without a viewfinder is curing that nicely. The long exposures are certainly another way of having to let the shot take place instead of trying to control it. Of course pinhole's unique ethereal image quality has a great deal of appeal as well.
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I'd like to finish and play around with a stereo pinhole camera I started 3 or 4 months ago. Unfortunately I'm easily distracted and it has become just one of many unfinished projects.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
My method is simple, I try to have a camera with me at all times so when something intrigues me I can photograph it. The cameras I use most are the 120 variety such as those made by Michael McCoy of Blind Wino Cameras or the Zero 2000 from Zero Image. I also use my own cameras, though not as often, which are generally 4x5 and 8x10. My favorite camera is a 4x5 I built. My wife decorated it, in a Dia de los Muertos motif, as a Christmas gift and it is just gorgeous. I shoot Fuji Acros 100 at EI 50, mostly, and process in Photographer's Formulary PMK pyro in a Jobo rotary tube processor. When exposed and processed properly I find the combination holds the highlights nicely. I scan my 120 negatives in a Nikon Coolscan 9000, use PhotoShop on a Mac for 'conventional darkroom manipulation', and print using an Epson 1400 using Piezography K6 CIS inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
I grew up learning photography with hand held light meters, twin lens cameras, slow film, etc, etc. I'm very comfortable shooting film so pinhole fills that slot quite nicely. I love the quality of the image and the method of shooting just seems to fit my sensibilities perfectly. It can be difficult overcoming the stigma that pinhole photography is gimmicky but I have found the raw material that best suits the way I wish to express myself.
Final Thoughts: I first saw Paul's work on YouTube (of all places) as I searched for pinhole related information and tutorials. His work produced with a Zero Image camera is some of the best that I have seen.