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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.

November 6th, 2009 : Kristy Hom
I'm Kristy Hom, and I'm a homeschooling mother, occasional website designer, and a photographer living in Cochise County, Arizona.

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 saw some pinhole photos for the first time, on the internet, in the Summer of 2008. I was amazed by the ethereal quality and clarity of the images. I realized how unique and intriguing pinhole images are- and was amazed at their making, with the most simple principles of light and photography! Right away, I was on fire creatively speaking, and wanted to make my own camera and images. I began by making an oatmeal box pinhole camera with Steve Woodruff's online tutorial.

Kristy Hom
kristy.hom@gmail.com
Follow me on Flickr Follow me on Twitter
   
I have been making pinhole images almost exclusively ever since- for about 15 months now. (October, 2009)

My creative influences are Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer , Rebecca Sexton Larson, Justin Quinell, Diana Bloomfield, Tina Maas, Tarja Trygg and most of all, the many pinhole and alt process photographers in the Flickr community. All of these people are very innovative and experimental, and love to play at their work. They are inspiring, they helped me to shape my outlook on experimenting with my own photography, and have given me great ideas to try myself. Many also openly share their processes and ideas, passing their knowledge and enthusiasm on to others. I deeply appreciate this openness, and want to share my work in the same way.
Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
The quality of long exposures, and how this allows the recording of motion and light over time, together with the curvy distortion from a curved film plane , (in a cylinder-shaped pinhole camera) are my favorite characteristics of pinhole photography.

I love being inspired by an image or a scene, then recording it, and marveling how these special qualities of pinhole photography work it's magic on my original perception. The changing light, the motion of people, the motion of objects in the wind, the infinite depth of field, and the low-fi quality of lensless black and white film or paper, all change the image in ways I could not have imagined beforehand. These qualities can make an image surreal-looking, for example, or could make an image of a historical subject appear as if the photo were made years ago.

I also love the unexpected results that come up- it keeps the process more playful and fresh and fun. Because my homemade pinhole cameras have no viewfinder, I have very little preconceived notion of what the image will look like exactly. Many times I am just pleased as punch that the camera was aimed in the correct general direction to capture the subject I had in mind!

Always, as the image forms in the darkroom, I am seeing it for the very first time, with fresh eyes and open heart and excitement. I never tire of that!

I have a curiosity about how we humans perceive the world, and like to compare this to how the world can be recorded otherwise. Pinhole photography is perfect for discovering, recording and sharing this. By gathering many moments, or even months of light on to one film plane, we see time stretch out. The results are otherworldly, but it is still our world, perceived differently. This is an element of photography I think I have been reaching for, and pinhole photography is a great medium of expression for it.
 

Copyright © 2009 KRISTY HOM
Gentle Giant
potato chip can pinhole camera, f.200, 12 minute exposure, paper negative
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I want to experiment with developing film and prints in coffee. It's exciting to be making images with basic household objects such as paint cans and gift tins, and it seems a fun extension to also develop and print these handmade images in handmade chemistry, too.

I also want to experiment more with printing with liquid silver emulsion on various surfaces. (papers, cloth, beeswax)

Now that I have a pinhole Holga camera, I want to experiment with different films (especially infrared) and filters, and different film processing methods.

I also want to explore recurring dream images and themes I have, and see if I can capture some elements of them photographically. Two particular themes are: discovery of new rooms and spaces in familiar places, and symbolism of broken windows.

I also want to produce some step-by-step videos of my work in process, in order to share with others that might like to try pinhole photography. As a beginning, I have just finished a short video of making a pinhole camera from a baking pumpkin.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
I especially enjoy my homemade tools- the cameras that I make myself from household and found containers. Every container will create an image differently, depending on it's focal length (making an image appear wide-angled/normal/telephoto, or producing an interesting vignette), and the shape the paper negative takes on in the camera. (flat and undistorted vs curved and distorted, for example)

I have been making prints onto various surfaces using an art projector, but my favorite method is contact printing. I have a 1/4-inch thick piece of glass that was made for me at a mirror and glass workshop, and use it to weigh down and hold the contact negative and printing surface together during exposure of the print. In contact printing, I also like to wet both surfaces with water, to make more contact between the surfaces. I find I consistently get a sharper image as a result.

Sometimes I like to combine darkroom and digital processing of images. For example, my main image could be made with a pinhole camera, (developed with standard darkroom chemistry) and then be combined with a second image, and maybe some digital toning or colorizing.

As an example of this technique, I have been working on a historical series called "Circa 2008-2009". First, I make a pinhole image, and then bring the scanned negative into Photoshop. After inverting the negative image to a positive, I replace the washed-out overexposed pinhole sky with a dramatic digital sky photo, and then add a digital sepia tone. Using these digital techniques helps me to achieve the effect I am looking for, while keeping my exposure to chemicals in my home bathroom-darkroom to a minimum.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
Pinhole has absolutely enlivened my creativity and self-expression as a photographer. I have loved photography as long as I can remember, but over the years have found myself resorting to buying more and more expensive equipment to achieve the images I was wanting to create. Even as I learned the manual operation of my camera very well, I still wondered who was making the pictures- me, or the camera and choice of lenses? (and Photoshop). These are all wonderful tools, but I longed to be more deeply involved in all parts of making the image. The process of making a digital image is so fast, and the images pile up at a frenzied pace. I wanted to slow down that process. In making my own pinhole cameras, I appreciate a sense of craftsmanship I don't have with picking up a manufactured camera. In choosing a pinhole camera for for it's particular characteristics, then making an image, and personally taking it through the developing and printing stages, I feel much more artistically involved in making my pictures. This very basic and simple form of photography has opened the door to many more ways of expressing myself.
 
Final Thoughts: Kristy strikes me as one of those quiet artists, living a normal life, but her images sneak up on you with a surprising, vibrant creativity. I was immediately drawn to her work that focuses on curved film planes and paper negatives. There is an obvious emotional attachment to her image-making that is very nostalgic while simultaneously current and relevant. Learn more about her work at http://photosynthesisdesign.com and http://crunchy.xanga.com.

- BJK, November 2009.