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This is The Kit on Pinhole Photography

06 July 2017, 16:26

Ahead of the release of their fourth record (and first for Rough Trade) Moonshine Freeze, This Is The Kit's Kate Stables takes a moment to sit still and talk to us about her love of pinhole photography.

When I was living in Bristol I went to a pinhole photography day workshop at the Cube Cinema lead by a man called Justin Quinnell.

Yes, there is an international pinhole photography day!

Anyone can take part and make a camera out of whatever they like (it just needs to be a light proof container in order to work) and then take a photo and upload it onto the pinhole day website along with all of the other photos that were taken on that day all around the world.

I just love it. Me and my dad count down the days to it every year. If I remember correctly, the workshop consisted of an introduction to pinhole photography and a few basic principles about light, a talk and slide show of a collection of pinhole photographs (which totally blew my mind) and then a workshop where everyone made their own camera took a photo and developed it.

It feels like some special kind of a magic to be able to make your own camera and to play with time and light and get given some kind of a visual record of the event at the end.

And the fun to be had with light experiments and distorting the image, or more likely deciphering the image when it wasn't clear what it was actually of, or how it turned out so strangely. Working out what went wrong or how the light behaved in a way you weren't expecting.

These are speedy times. We consume and travel and produce stuff at such a dizzying rate. As we gobble up numbers and measurements and gigabytes and control, I find myself getting drawn to activities which help us to slow down and to let go of a bit of control.

Leaving it to luck and enjoying the process just as much as the finished result: Pinhole photography is a slow process. One shot at a time.

Then taking it home and developing it, and then seeing if it's worked or not. And then loading up the camera to go out and try again. And the actual taking of the photo can be long and slow too. On a sunny day then it could be a matter of seconds but in a situation where there isn't much light, I love how long a single exposure might be.

When you sit as still as you can for set time length you realise how rarely we actually we do that in our everyday lives: Sitting still for sitting still's sake. The different relationship that gives us with time. With how we feel in our bodies when we sit still. With what happens to our minds when we stop moving our bodies.

Of course, there is lots of fun to be had using movement in pinhole photography also. But for me, I just really enjoy the stillness. It's even better when you get to sit still for a photo in a very busy crowded place. All of a sudden there is an element of performance. People aren't used to seeing someone being so still in public. It's fun noticing all the different reactions it can cause.

Then there's also the developing of the photo. How soothing it is to be in nearly total darkness and to quietly go about processing the photo and waiting to see the image appear. The simplicity of a black and white image ... it can be so much richer and wake up so much more of our imagination than a hi-resolution digital colour photograph that we look at using a screen.

For me, taking pinhole photos teaches about time and stillness and light and then about darkness and silence. All things we need a bit more of these days.

Moonshine Freeze is due out 7 July via Rough Trade Records. Get your copy here.
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