Marko Umicevic.

Marko Umicevic is a fine art and experimental photographer working in a black and white silver-based medium. His work is based on optic of self-designed pinhole camera in pair with paper negative as a preferred medium of choice. More recently, he started experimenting with photo paper as his only tool. Marko has a MA Degree in Art History and formal photographic training. He exhibited internationally in both Europe and USA and his work has been featured in several publications.


What is your name? How old are you? And, where are you from?


My name is Marko Umicevic, I’m 36 years old. I live in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where my darkroom and digital studio are based. My photographic adventure started off with film and medium format camera. Seven years ago I started producing photographs with self-designed pinhole cameras and my newest project goes even further than that: experimenting camera-less, with photo paper as my only equipment. In my newest project I use the medium of photography to create a deeper bond between myself and nature and to explore the unbelievable potency of nature, its self-sufficiency and the power to create and nurture life within its soil. I am magically attracted to the art of creating pictures, but my interest does not lie in mere photocopy of reality.


In your own words, what do you do?


I shoot with home-made pinhole cameras, which I designed specifically to hold a single sheet of paper at a time, instead of film. I crafted cameras out of simple materials such as cardboard, wood or aluminium. They are made to be sturdy and functional and aren’t looking fancy at all. With these self-designed cameras I made three portfolios so far: Malkauns, Floating Outerworlds and Mirror of Prague. Beside new images that are in colour, all my work is black and white and most of it is printed by hand in the darkroom.


Why do you do what you do?


It brings me a lot of joy, really. There is something deeply personal and intimate about it. Especially in making photographs that are deprived of human presence, big civilizational achievements and all these glittering little things our consumeristic realities are made of. I wanted to escape from all that and to contemplate my own vision of the world, and the vision of myself in that world. I love the slowness of it, I love being in the process, I love the ability to be in control of the process from the very beginning until the very end.


What is integral to your practice?


I would say consistency and truthfulness to my own visions and aesthetics. I am very meticulous and detail oriented when it comes to light, working with chemicals, tonality, etc., but also I’m constantly trying to explore something new and to move my own boundaries even further. I have a lot of patience. I never rush to finish up something just to complete the series and sometimes one photograph remains in my mind for months before I finally let it go. I would say I can be idealistic lunatic sometimes, but I love working within the medium and I’m amazed with its possibilities.


Why pinhole?


I was introduced to a pinhole at a time when I was already working with analogue camera. But I switched to pinhole because I felt there were more things to explore and I loved the strangeness of perspective. Since I was able to design my own cameras and load them with paper, cut to my own liking, soon I discovered all the perks of working with non-standard formats and having everything done in nonconventional way. Finally, there is this phenomenon of pinhole light as pinhole renders light differently than any lens does. When I make photographs with pinhole camera, sometimes it feels that light literally draws shapes of outer world onto the paper, as if some kind of magic is present inside of the box.


Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?


As a photographer I was always attracted to landscapes and cityscapes. Locations I choose all have personal relevance to me and I don’t see it happening any other way. For instance, Floating Outerworlds has been made in wilderness of highly depopulated area of mountain Croatia (region of Lika), where my grandmother lives. The nature there is basically untouched and unpolluted and you can really feel yourself close to it. Then there is series Mirror of Prague which is my personal homage to childhood days spent in Prague when I visited my father during the 90s. I referred to Prague as to the city of magic and I always feel magical when I’m there, so I tried to convey that feeling to my photographs.


Has your practice change over time? If so, how?


Over the years I switched my focus from reality to dreamlike reality. And when it comes to process of making pictures, I think I started to see photo paper, i.e. paper negative, as even more important tool than camera itself. The processing of paper negative remained the same. But today I also use digital tools, such as scanner and printer, after I exit my darkroom. So with being completely lo-fi and out of this time, I also try not to avoid being digital, which also means presence on social networks.


Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? And why?


It’s the photograph “Outer Heavens” from my portfolio Floating Outerworlds. This piece has been widely exhibited and published on several occasions.


From whom do you draw the most inspiration?


Nature, art and music are always biggest inspirations for me. I love to discover other artists whose sentiment resembles my own; that always comes as big inspiration too. Lately I was blown away by “Littoral Drift” by Meghann Riepenhoff and “Force Fields” by Liz Nielsen.


What is your dream project?


The project I am currently working on. I’d love to keep my focus on the nature for a longer period of time and just see where it takes me.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?


Croatian fine art photographer Josip Klarica, one of the pupils of famous Czech photographer Josef Sudek, said to me when he reviewed my first pinhole photographs that “there always must be something in the middle of the frame”. And this advice was very helpful to me. I realized that even when something is not there, for instance when I’m capturing vast landscape, this “optical centre” has to be somewhere in my head. “Centre” is just a concept.



Florencia Viceconte.

My name is Florencia Viceconte, I’m 33 years old, I’m from Buenos Aires in Argentina. I build photo cameras for 35mm, 120mm rolls and photo paper. I use solid wood for its construction. I do not use machines, everything is built manually. With the cameras I capture portraits of the people around me. 

Why do you do what you do? 

Because it gives me the possibility to continue researching and adding tools for my own knowledge. 

I have a hard time separating what I do from what I am. I am interested in going deeper in my person through my work. 

What is integral to your practice? 

The sound, the image, the contact and the search for materials is integral to my work. Poetry is a great link in the images I build. 

Why pinhole? 

Because it offers many possibilities, a particular plasticity is achieved within the image. There is something uncontrollable when photographing pinhole that I find interesting. The construction from the instrument itself to the revealed image, and the possibility of changing the image in each process. I feel very close to the method, the importance of the process and the possibility of it mutating along the way.

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice? 

The ‘everydayness’ combined with the strangeness of reality. I’m interested in research and repetition. I find it interesting creating mechanisms that give the ‘random’ a chance to shine. 

Has your practice change over time? If so, how? 

I have sharpened my knowledge in working with wood and expanded my knowledge about myself. For me the construction of cameras is like entering a meditative state.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It comes from the people around me, from nature and yoga. 

What is your dream project? 

Achieve links with what I do, connect with people around me, share tools, pursue the welfare of their environment and mine. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

Breathe with awareness.



John Gleason, Jr.

“I have photographed under the pseudonym, Probus for almost forty years. My influences have included Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Duane Michals. I am self-taught, which explains the unorthodox nature of my imagery. My photography relies on movement and the surreal effect that is captured on film. Initially, I shot interiors of abandoned houses with haunting intent. I advanced to large format, but was unable to recreate the same results or emotional connection. I started my journey with pinhole photography back in 2009 when I purchased a Finney Pinhole Camera. I hadn’t taken it seriously as a form of expression until I took a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2015. My criteria for that trip was a quick light weight setup, as I was traveling with my family (whose patience and attention span does not measure my own). There I was able to reconnect with same passion of years past. I started mining from the same moody place as before. My new subject matter has been ancient trees in various forms of decay. I am disturbed by the amount of dying trees not only in my city but everywhere I travel. The long exposures and blurred movement captures the pain and suffering of these old sages. Their death portends a serious message for us all to heed. My work is still captured on film but exists in digital scans of my Instagram and Flickr accounts. I plan to slow down and get back in the darkroom to print by next year.”

Who are you? 

My name is John Gleason, Jr. I have been using the pseudonym Probus for over forty years. I chose this as a way to separate my work from my private life. I am a physician by trade, but have enjoyed photography as my expressive outlet. I am 58 years old. I live in Louisville, KY. 

In your own words, what do you do? 

I am a fine art photographer. I have never pursued commercial success, as this has been a personal and private endeavor. I photograph in black and white because it is a process that I am most comfortable and familiar with. 

Why do you do what you do? 

Photography has been my avenue of self expression. I am always observing people and manifestations of disease in my professional life. It is difficult to remain objective and detached from the people you care for. You must be empathetic to the plight of your patients so that you can establish a relationship with your patients. Photography allows me the ability to express my feelings that would otherwise stay dormant during work hours. 

What is integral to your practice? 

Strong lines, subtle patterns and tonality are most important for my imagery. Coming from a background of large format photography, I feel that tonality is lacking in pinhole photography. Most pinhole images appear flat, lacking emotion. I choose to overdevelop my negatives in order to gain better contrast. The pinhole camera’s depth of field dictates the need for dramatic tones and contrast. This may seen counterintuitive for pinhole photography, but it is what makes my work unique. 

Why pinhole? 

When I seriously pursued pinhole photography, I wanted a lightweight view camera which would provide me with the optimal depth of field without getting bogged down in the details of tilt, focal length and composition. I found the technical process of composition distracting with large format photography. On trips (and also important for family harmony), I take less time setting up my camera and shot. Also, pinhole cameras have less moving parts, which makes it a practical decision. There is little to break down and repair. Photographic tape (or the equivalent of duct tape) is all I need for most repairs. 

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice? 

When I first began photography, I chose long exposures to capture blurred movement within abandoned houses. I desired to capture the apparition within the house in order to tell the story of the former inhabitants. With pinhole, I am able to capture the movement or spirit of decaying trees. This has become a personal exploration for me as I am concerned about the tree loss in my city parks. 

Has your practice change over time? If so, how? 

I continue to use trees as my main subject. As I have acquired more pinhole cameras (which seems to be a common thread amongst pinhole photographers), I am choosing subject matter differently depending on the individual camera’s focal length and angle of view. Traveling outside of my home town allows me to explore new themes. I am experimenting different films and developers to capture a different tonality and sharpness. Lastly, I am concerned about the affect darkroom chemicals have on the environment. I have been using chemicals that can be safely disposed of. 

Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? And why? 

It’s an early self-portrait entitled “Probus Pears In”. It’s a pivotal piece that started me on my journey with abandoned houses and ghost-like figures. I feel this set my style and themes for the next 4 decades. 

From whom do you draw the most inspiration? 

Ralph Eugene Meatyard has always been my inspiration. He was a Kentucky artist who photographed blurred movement and abandoned houses. I think the lush darkness of Kentucky lends itself to this spiritually moody imagery. Also, reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky provided me with an interest drama and attention to details. 

What is your dream project? 

Photographing trees is my current dream project. Eventually I want to read more in depth about tree classification and environmental effects on trees. This will add an additional dimension to my work. Since I have a 8x10 pinhole camera, I would like to create some portraits with natural light. These images would be great for contact printing using the cyanotype method. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

Two things: 

1. A good piece of art work deserves a good title. 

2. “I believe that when we think very fast we pass over the verbs and emphasize the adjectives. In my opinion, that’s the way people with cold dispositions think. Myself, I see things.”—Berthe Morriset. I came across this quote recently, but it has stuck with me for its emphasis on careful observation.


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