Marie Girardin.

What would we do without social media?! Instagram has become a necessity in the running of this little blog. The fact I can connect with a pinhole practitioner in France (or anywhere in the world) at the click of a button (or a double tap ‘like’), is astounding.

Recently, I got in contact with Marie as, after following the beginning of her artistic journey on Instagram, I needed to pick her brain on her thoughts and feelings of pinhole! 

The way she talks about using a pinhole camera evokes a sense of optimism and delight - something that comes across in the exposures she uploads, and the ones she’s allowed me to feature here in the blog. 

Do yourself a favour on this Worldwide Pinhole Photograph Day and have a read of our discussion below.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Marie…

My name is Marie, I’m 31 years old, and I’m from Colmar, a picturesque town in Alsace, North-East of France. Mostly I’m a landscape photographer, I find I’m more in the mood to take pictures as I travel. I try to capture a moment, just as I experienced it: to remember and share it. That’s probably why I’m not into heavy editing!

What is integral to your practice? 

Experimenting, and sharing. What is interesting with a wooden camera, is that it attracts attention. So the “sharing” part is different than with a regular digital camera, it occurs even before the picture can be seen: when you are in the street capturing a picture, people are curious, puzzled, and almost every time they come and ask questions or share their memories of film cameras.

So, why pinhole? 

Fun story: my boyfriend and I gifted each other pinhole cameras as Christmas presents - a total coincidence! We each thought the process was interesting, and that it would be perfect for the other one ;) 

I received the 6x6 camera from Ondu, and now I also own the 6x12 Multiformat. What I love about pinhole, is that it is a basic, slow and think-before-you-shoot approach to photography. It’s quite the opposite of what I hate in digital photography - the “hardware race” with all those guys comparing the size of their lenses and the price of their 3 lb, 22MP cameras… I’m not interested!

Finally, the rendering of a pinhole photograph is so unique, with its very wide angle, slight distortion and vignetting. The pictures you want to take are completely different than those of another camera which means you start to think and see things differently. The result is always a travel back in time.

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?

Landscape is always my theme of choice. But since I began using a pinhole camera, I’ve become very attracted to ‘cityscapes’ and street photography. I guess the very wide angle allows me to capture what I wasn’t capable of before. Although, being able to get the Strasbourg Cathedral in one shot was almost a challenge!

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

I started taking pictures with a pinhole camera in January, only three months ago, so I’m still very new to all this… 

However, I would say I am now less afraid to take pictures that *might* be a failure: I’m not thinking about “wasting” film anymore. The next step is allowing myself to take several pictures of the same place or the same subject, varying the angle and the exposure time. For now I’m still hoping to have 12 different perfectly framed and exposed pictures on a film, but it’s a risky bet considering my camera doesn’t even have a viewfinder!

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

I think the picture I’m the proudest of is the very first picture I took with my brand new pinhole camera. I was very afraid of ruining the film, so I figured that if I waited until the sun began to set, the longer exposure time would be more forgiving. 

I put the camera on a tripod in the living room, opened the shutter, ran to the armchair, tried to stay still while battling with my cat who wanted to be in the picture (but at the same time as being pet), waited until a calculated exposure time of 10 minutes, and ran back to the camera to close the shutter!

At the end, the picture looks so peaceful, you don’t notice anything. Magic.

From whom do you draw the most inspiration? 

Since I’m very new to pinhole photography, I was delighted to find a small but strong community of pinhole photographers on Instagram. Their work amaze me, they are very supportive and keen to give advice. I love seeing their pictures, and wondering how they manage the final result. It motivates me to experiment with double exposures, portraits, composition… I still have so much to learn!

What is your dream project? 

I would like to travel for a large amount of time, and be able to wait in a place until the conditions are optimal to take a picture. Taking pictures of the people I meet along the way would also be very fulfilling. Otherwise, building my own pinhole camera would be an awesome project!

And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Best life advice ever, comes from my beloved boyfriend Adrien: ALWAYS USE A TRIPOD! :)

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