“Less Is More”. Don’t burden yourself with equipment.
My name is Paul Woloschuk. I am 66 years old, retired and I live in a village near Chippenham in Wiltshire, UK. Photography has been a passion of mine ever since my teenage years. A few years ago, I visited Cornwall in the UK. Rather than take my usual variety of cameras and lenses, I chose instead to take only my Zero Image pinhole camera and a tripod. The experience was really eye-opening.
In your own words, what do you do?
I photograph whatever interests me. This frequently takes the form of images of architecture and nature, which you may think they are two complete opposites, but I see similarities in their forms. Function, structure and beauty may exist in both.
Why do you do what you do?
I shoot pinhole because of the simplicity and rawness of the process. Plus, I suppose the uncertainty of the resulting image excites me. I especially like to employ long exposures in my work; I try use a long exposure to introduce evidence of movement into my photographs.
What is integral to your practice?
The ability to identify a suitable pinhole scene by training my eye to ‘see pinhole’.
I have always loved the ethereal quality of the photographs by the pioneers, and have long been fascinated by alternative photographic techniques. I have created sunprints, experimented with sepia toning, Platinum Palladium printing and even hand-tinting using inks. But it was whilst browsing photographs on the web that I came across pinhole images. The extreme wide angle of view and soft characteristics was an instant hit with me. Here was another aspect of photography that I just had to try! Not having the skills to make my own camera, I bought a Zero Image 69 (variable format) camera. Zernike Au’s cameras are not only very well made, but are in themselves objects of beauty. A couple of years later, I bought a Reality So Subtle 6 x 17 format camera from James Guerin in order to experiment with the panoramic format. Both cameras use 120 film which gives me a negative of adequate quality to produce quite large prints with the convenience and affordability of roll film. Having the Zero Image, with its variable format (6x4.5 through to 6x9) and the RSS 6x17, I am now happy with my ‘tools’. I love the primitive nature of pinhole photography, and I particularly like the impressionist results that pinhole photography often creates. I like working with the minimum of equipment, in the same was that an artist might choose to have only a sketch pad and charcoal out in the field. He uses the limited pallet available to him skilfully to create his vision. Taking a photograph with a simple camera challenges the photographer to use his visionary skills using the minimum of equipment.
Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?
I love to photograph doorways and entrances. They encourage the viewer to imagine what may be beyond that gate or that arch - be it a garden, an orchard or a room.
Has your practice change over time? If so, how?
It’s difficult to say whether my pinhole photography has changed over time, as when I began using a pinhole camera relatively recently, I was already experienced in working with film, having started my photography in the 1960s, and being used to processing my own film and prints; film was not new to me. Therefore, moving into pinhole was simply a matter of applying my existing techniques to a different camera, although having said that, I did need to recognise a pinhole camera’s characteristics, and learn how to bring them out in my photography.
Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? And why?
Just over two years ago, I bought a pinhole camera created by James Guerin; the RSS 6x17. My first outing with that camera was on a trip to London. I took a photograph of the 21st century Millennium Bridge with the 17th century St Paul’s Cathedral as a distant focal point, itself sandwiched between the modern and classical buildings of London. The river was busy with river taxis and tourist boats, but the long exposure eliminated those distractions, allowing the viewer to concentrate on the architecture within the photograph. I like that photograph because it demonstrates the amazing quality that one can achieve from a pinhole camera.
From whom do you draw the most inspiration?
I’m not a great fan of art per se, but I do like the work of the eighteenth century British artist, William Turner. He created movement in his paintings by using create swirls of dramatic colour.
What is your dream project?
I have a long-standing interest in traditions - I would love to travel around the UK, capturing traditional customs armed only with a pinhole camera.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?