Spotlight #1- John Farnan

A new feature on the Blog.. a regular (weekly if possible) Spotlight on the work of RealitySoSubtle customers. First up is John Farnan.

I asked John about his pinhole photography and feature some of his work with the RealitySoSubtle cameras. I love John’s panoramas made with the RSS 6×17 dual pinhole camera. He seems to be perfectly in tune with the camera. He also shoots the RSS 4x5z, 35P, 35R and 4x5C.

Thanks John!..and ‘Stoat’ about – love that!

(click images for larger view)

Hi John, can you tell us why you shoot pinhole rather than regular lensed photos?

I got into pinhole photography a few years back, a friend gave me a loaner. I have never looked back since.

There is something about the direct connection between whats inside my head and the view without lenses that just clicked with me. I adore the way it is so basic and without anything other than the pinhole and me.

Your work consists of mainly landscape and street/architecture. Can you talk about why you shoot those subjects with a pinhole camera?

I live in a built up area and this is what I am surrounded by, I have always been drawn to architecture with lensed cameras but I was never able to capture the wide vistas I saw in front of me, even with my 17mm lens. So I bought myself a RealitySoSubtle 6×17 with 2 pinholes. This literally turned my photography upside down, its ability to present the expanse of a city whilst conveying the height, using the top pinhole to draw down the buildings was remarkable.

I have never looked back since. Pinhole adds an element of the ethereal to my photography, people are either slightly out of synch or just not present at all. You can feel their presence but can’t always see it.

Do you shoot several cameras together in the same sessions or are you a one camera kind of guy? Tell us about your shooting style and work-flow.

That’s a difficult one to answer. I sometimes take a single camera / format with me and other times I take multiple. I used to think it was easier to stick to a single format but now I am so used to my cameras that I see the scene and bring a camera out for it, with practice you get used to judging what the best camera is for the scene you have.
Shooting style: I stoat about with a camera and a small tripod. I see things and I make images.

Years ago, someone gave me a bit of advice. Stop looking and start seeing. I give this same advice to aspiring and experienced photographers who are stuck in a rut. What it means to me is, rather than looking everywhere for something to shoot, just be more in tune with what’s around you, keep your eyes open and you will see the opportunities.

There is no such thing as perfect light, there is the kind of light you have in front of you, see the opportunities it has rather than worrying about the ones it doesn’t.
If you think you could revisit at a different time or season for a different light, then great take a few phone snaps with geo-location on so you know where and what it is. My workflow is simple I see it I frame it in my head, I work out the exposure and I hang around till the exposure is complete.

How do your family/friends react to your pinhole photography?.. in both the making/taking and them seeing the results.

Ambivalence probably. They on the whole don’t care about process, cameras, film or anything else. Just the end result looking good and making me smile!
My wife kinda puts up with my continual carrying of a camera when we are out, though I am not a daft guy I know my limits and don’t push it. I try to shoot my pinhole work if we are together only when she is doing something else.

Why did you choose the RealitySoSubtle cameras? What do you like about them and what would you like to see improved/introduced?

Initially by accident I suppose. I got my first RSS camera and was hooked, that was my 6×17 twin pinhole.

I have since purchased a fair few of them in various formats, I like the simplicity and reliable way they just work and produce stunning images every time. Anytime I have spoken with James on modifications or improvements to the cameras he’s always been very receptive and accommodating.

I am also a massive fan of supporting small businesses like my own.
Improvements: A 3 hole 6×17 made from solid wood J but that’s super niche. (Super challenging but maybe one day!)

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