154mc – Tom Hunter Talk

On the 9th of May, Tom Hunter was holding a talk about his recent pinhole work around Birmingham. As we were currently working with pinhole during our module. I thought it would fitting to attend this talk due to the fact that his work was based around ’empty spaces’, which was what we were trying to create during our module. During his talk a took down notes however he was such a relaxed and down to earth photographer that I found myself wanting to listen more than write.

Tom Hunter grew up in Dorset and left school when he was 15. He then started working on farms in which he became a tree surgeon for 4 year. However he decided that he wanted to travel and this was when he became interested in Photography. He started on 35mm film and photographed the happenings around him. He then started squatting in which he lived in buses with a group of people he had since then bought a 5×4 camera which made his work much more vibrant:

This was when his working method changed and he became more serious with his photography. Other squatters were telling him that education is important and this was when he found himself getting a place at the Royal College of Art.

Hes started getting inspired by people who were struggling with living as he himself got a second eviction notice – referenced Migrant Mother

He wanted to create similar compositions of his neighbours such as John Vermeer




Took pictures of people in their tower block flats before they got knocked down, as they were known as a nuisance.

20101029031143_HUN_0007 20101029031514_HUN_0004

 With his midsummers nightdream work he was always inspired by paintings. He hopes the viewers see a narrative throughout the work. Everyone would always ask what camera he used? What photoshop he used? He felt everyone was losing the point of why he was creating these photographs and what they represented. This was when he chose to go back to basics by using a pinhole camera. He did not actually make the camera himself his friend made it for him. He first used his pinhole in Dublin Bay:

224 sea9-mark


He was fascinated by the results so when he went back to Hackney he decided to concentrate on pinhole a lot more. He said that he preferred it as it allowed light to seep into the box rather than going out and grabbing the light available. He began to get commissioned with his work in which he would have to create 8-10 images. However Birmingham wanted him to make 50 pinhole photographs and with this information he began to panic.

He was rather excited to come to Birmingham as his grandmother and grandfather came from their so it was nice to come to his family roots.

Quote ‘ Their is an amazing essence to pinhole’
‘ Pinhole exaggerates light, it would take forever to creare that form of light in a studio’

He does not use any form of photoshop in his pinhole work. He gets consumed when taking his pinhole photography. He doesn’t like being too dramatic so he makes sure he keeps one foot in documentary and one slightly in fantasy. Pinhole photography is much more like the human eye. ‘Technology is so fast that we forget what we are doing’ – Quote

Overall this was by far my favourite talk I have ever been to. His casual approach makes the viewer relax and feel more apart of the talk he is giving. He did not use complex vocabulary when talking about his photographs, this allows the viewer to constantly feel encaged to listen without trying to think about what certain words mean. He connected with the audience with humour which reminded me of Steve Job’s university speech, as it made you feel like you were having a more friendly encounter than just being a stranger to the person giving the speech. I found his work extremely inspiring and has made me want to experiment further with pinhole such as colour film in which I hope to do over the summer. Considering he is quite a well known photographer he was not one to ‘big himself up’ if anything he made us realise that he knows nothing about lighting and finds it rather confusing. This is why he chose to go to pinhole photography, even then he found that he was doing 30 second exposures which was far too long.



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