We, the writers at PhotoArtmag look at scores of photographers and visual artists every day but we seldom come across someone who solely shoots with a pinhole camera. When we discovered mesmerizing pinhole photography of Anjeleca Daniel we couldn’t resist ourselves and decided to feature her deeply soothing nature images. Before moving onto our interview with this terrific visual artist, here’s some info (for those who are unaware of it) about pinhole photography:
A pinhole camera, also known as camera obscura is a simple optical imaging device in the shape of a closed box or chamber. In one of its sides is a small hole which, via the rectilinear propagation of light, creates an image of the outside space on the opposite side of the box. Because a pinhole camera requires a lengthy exposure, its shutter may be manually operated, as with a flap made of light-proof material to cover and uncover the pinhole. Typical exposures range from five seconds to several hours.
Imagination plays a key role in the creative process of pinhole photography, as a pinhole camera has no viewfinder or lens. Specific attributes of the pinhole camera create a softening of detail, a lessening of surface glare and reflection in the image, together with an infinite depth of field, natural vignetting and a modulation of colour.
That sure is wisdom for many of us. Those who love facts or trivia may note that World Pinhole (Photography?) Day is held on the last Sunday of April.
Besides being a visual feast to the eyes, Anjeleca’s pinhole photography has a meditative air. It is the nature at its most serene and peaceful configuration. In our interview below, Anjeleca shares with us some info, insight and inspiration into her work:
Please tell us about yourself:
I have dual citizenship with New Zealand and Australia. I was born in New Zealand and lived there until I was in my twenties and now I live in Tasmania, Australia. I have had close ties with the arts throughout my life, performing, singing, playing musical instruments, drawing, and even administering a private Art School for 9 years. I have also worked as a midwife and in other allied medical areas, for a long time. These varied activities have really added colour and breadth to my life.
How did you get into the world of photography? Did you always want to become a photographer?
Fine Art photography is something I fell into along the way. Mostly my passion has been for drawing. At University, I was not able to major in drawing at an undergraduate level, so I took a sideways step into photography. At first I was pretty anxious about everything I imagined I had to learn, but after some trial and error, I found a fit when I began using a pinhole camera. I had always loved the atmospheric qualities of old and experimental, photographic imagery. Then I found myself actually doing it!
Do you have an artist statement? Do photographers need one?
This is a good question. Some people think that the work should speak for itself and others think that in this image-saturated age, perhaps we should give viewers a little help. If you are going to have a statement, should you talk around the work or just tell a viewer what to see? I do have a statement on my website, as it seems to be expected and also a requirement for Galleries these days, certainly in Australia.
Most of your recent work is full of deeply soothing compositions expressing tranquil vastness. What’s there in that you attempt to capture?
What I try to do through my work it to reconnect a viewer with their still, quiet centre, from where they can really appreciate and feel nature as part of themselves. I want to bring the meaning I find in watching things like the weather and the seasons and the calm of nature’s, healing powers very close, in the hope that it touches people in a positive way.
Tell us about the creative approaches you employ before you plan a ‘shoot’?
I am so lucky to live on a very small and beautiful island, where I have soothing, natural beauty all around me (45% of Tasmania is either nature reserve or World Heritage National Park). I can just walk outside and there are endless creative opportunities. Much of my work is done very early in the morning, to capture the beautiful light, so I get my gear ready the night before. I have to watch the weather forecast as well, as Tasmania is a southern island, very close to Antarctica and conditions can change quite quickly. Because I am shooting in analogue using long exposures, if it is very rainy or windy, I can lose the still, reflective water effect I like.
What kind of equipment do you use at work. Do you ever use a walk-around camera?
I use pinhole cameras, photographic film and an old fashioned light meter. I have several pinhole cameras and my favourites at the moment are two, hand made by Zero Image. I have a 35mm and another medium format camera, which has the ability to set different image widths. An added benefit is that both these cameras take roll film, usually Kodak TMax. I hand hold occasionally, but mostly I use a tripod because of the long exposures and often I am actually standing in the water.
How do you transfer the images onto the digital medium? What are your views on editing and digital manipulation?
After developing, I scan the negatives at a high resolution. This gives me the ability to print big if I want to. I take a lot of satisfaction from using minimal digital manipulation. The main tools I would use are straightening and cropping. I scan the whole negative and then I like to trim the image to remove distractions. Also, because pinhole cameras have no viewfinders, I have to use my imagination when positioning the camera, sometimes my horizon lines need a bit of straightening.
What are the most unusual reactions you come across from viewers of your work?
Because many people are so accustomed to highly manipulated imagery these days, sometimes they naturally assume that my work has also been worked up or layered in Photoshop. When I explain my low-tech process to them, they are usually amazed.
Do you have a favorite work or a project having a great story behind?
The first pinhole camera I used was a tiny, plastic, toy one that I bought as a present for a child’s birthday at some time in the future. I put the camera in a cupboard and forgot about it, until I moved house some years later. It was so much fun to use and it lasted about three months before some of the parts started to break, but without that little camera I would not have started at all, I don’t think. I picked it up and used it because it was there.
What do you think about contemporary photography?
Contemporary photography is at a very interesting stage I think. There are so many opportunities now for all sorts of photographers to play and experiment and dozens of platforms for them to make their work accessible. In the Fine Art world, photography is less and less seen as the poor relation to other more traditional art-forms, like painting and some truly wonderful work is emerging. There is something for everyone.
Tell us about your achievements, awards, clients, etc.
As I came to photography later in life, most of my achievements have been associated with my University studies. I have had group and solo exhibitions of my work and sold prints to many lovely clients. It is very pleasing to know my work is bringing pleasure to others.
What’s next? What are your future plans/projects, ambitions, inspirations etc.?
I am fully focused on my University work now. This next phase of study will take three or four years and I am excited to see what will develop from my experimentation. I am really interested in exploring more camera-less techniques now, after I made a room-sized camera obscura last year.
Please share your favorite stuff: photographers, quotes, films, music etc.
I find inspiration in all sorts of places, though I find myself returning all the time to the photographers of the past. There is an exhibition in Sydney at the moment of Julia Margaret Cameron, images from the 19th Century, that I can’t wait to see and I love the strength and quietness of Agnes Martin’s paintings. I am a classical music nut and I guess my really favourite quote of all time is:
To thine own self be true. – William Shakespeare
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
This is what I say to myself: As an artist/ photographer the most important thing to strive for is authenticity, just be yourself, follow your heart and intuition, work for yourself and no one else.
I think if we do this and do our best, it has to be good enough!
Note: All artwork images are the exclusive property of the artist/photographer and protected under the International Copyright laws. Their copying and reproduction in any manner is strictly prohibited without the express permission of the owner.