Spotlight #2 – Joe Ditchett

Joe shoots the RealitySoSubtle 6x17f (the 6×17 with central pinhole and filter attachment) and the 6x6F (central pinhole and filter attachement). Film stocks : Fuji Acros, Ilford Delta 100, Kodak Ektar, and Kodak Portra 160.

(click images for larger view)

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

First, I love photography. It’s such a wonderful creative medium, with a lot of different practices. I started my photography journey by making lensed photos like many photographers. Yet after some time, I started getting consumed by making ‘clean’ and technically correct images. Then I discovered pinhole photography. That discovery was liberating for me in so many ways. I was suddenly able to be more present as I made photos. I was free from the prison of making ‘perfectly sharp photos.’ And in the long run, pinhole photography has allowed me to more deeply explore my relationship with the world around me.

Your work features your family prominently. Can you talk about why you shoot them with a pinhole camera? I really like that the pinhole has rendered them anonymously due to the longer exposures/movement.

There’s an old belief in photography that you should make pictures wherever you are, and thankfully I am almost always with family. I wouldn’t be able to make many photos if I waited for those few moments where I am off on my own. Initially, I always had a lensed camera when I was out with the kids – hoping to get those fleeting moments of childhood. But, I found the lens distracting. Constantly thinking of settings. Constantly protecting the lens. It ultimately created a separation between me at the moment that I wanted to soak in.

Pinhole photography rescued me from the trappings of lensed photography. Photographing my family with the pinhole suddenly reframed my entire connection with time, memory, and childhood. The pinhole challenged everything that I thought was foundational, and photographing my family in this way created a constellation in which I could orient my own being. 

Do you shoot the square format and the pano together in the same sessions or are you a one camera kind of guy. Tell us about your work-flow.

I work predominantly with the square format because it’s easy to carry and allows me to take a lot of photos. I love working the 6×17, but it typically takes extra effort to make it really sing. So, I don’t always have it in my bag when I had out. When possible, I do like to travel with both cameras assuming I have the space. I don’t really like being out and thinking ‘this would be a great image with pano’. Both cameras also allow me to use a filter, which I do use pretty regularly.  

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

My family has been very supportive of my pinhole work. Although, I think they still wonder what they’re looking at when they see the final image. The atypical qualities of pinhole can challenge what one might expect from a photo. Pinhole photography can also be liberating for people that I photograph. People are no longer burdened by how they look, and the kids certainly appreciate not being constantly told to ‘stand still and smile.’  The whole process creates this curious intersection of anonymity and familiarity. You might not be able to see someone’s face, yet we can often find meaning in that special moment depicted through the pinhole. 

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

RSS cameras have a lot to offer. Mutliple formats and features. Reliability and useability are important to me. Honestly, I put these cameras through their paces. I occasionally drop the camera. I get them wet. I get them dirty. The kids knock them over. And the RSS keeps on working. I can easily put my 6x6F in my pocket when I head out. I regularly use filters with my B&W photography. All aspects that are helpful for me. I don’t have much to offer in terms of improvements, but it might be fun to see some anamorphic cameras in medium format.  

Thanks Joe! You can follow Joe on instagram : @ditchphoto_pinhole

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