Justin Quinnell

Justin Quinnell was born and lives in Bristol. He first took up a camera at the age of 11 and  is considered to be one of the world experts in pinhole photography. He is known for Mouthpiece where he used a small pinhole camera to take images from inside his mouth and Slow Light, a series of 6 month duration images. He makes regular media appearances, including Blue Peter, The One Show and The Today Programme, and his latest book Discovering Light is published in 2016.


‘Isobelle’ is an awfullogramme, a technique invented a few years ago. It makes use of handheld synchronised flash units with a beer can pinhole camera. The intense burst of light combined with the unlimited depth of field given by a pinhole image enables ultra close up images, an intimidating 2cm from the subject. The addition to this of the 170 degree wide angle view results in the awfullogramme.

The image could be seen as distorted but I believe it is a truer a representation of a person’s face than perceived by the distortion of light within the lens of a human eye. It is perhaps similar to the ‘feel’ of a face as perceived by a blind person.


The image was selected from a series taken at the Knowle West Health Park at a family fun day in July where people were invited to have a ‘beer can selfie’ alongside a formal portrait, then to watch their image magically appear in the chemistry of a traditional photographic darkroom. These were then scanned and viewed using the inverse settings on mobile phones, a combination of 200 years of technology, from Fox Talbot to the I-phone.


Pinhole photography isn’t encouraged by Nikon, Canon or the photographic press. You can’t make money out of an empty beer can costing £5199-00 less than a Canon 1DX. Its independence from commercial influence gives it is unique if awkward space within photography and art.