Campus & Community

The Big Picture

2 min read

Nature draws her, the rocks and the water and the trees; the constant change that cycles around until it’s familiar again and comfortable.

Photography is how Amanda Quintin answers the call, and it seems only appropriate she do it with a pinhole camera. Wood and brass, no lens, just a tiny hole that lets light into the wooden box, exposing the film and giving Quintin something to share from the experience.

Quintin, design director for Alumni Affairs and Development Communications, studied photography while at design school at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She can handle today’s complex cameras, crammed with features. But as soon as she saw her first pinhole camera eight years ago – homemade by her sister – she was hooked.

“It’s really basic, kind of organic,” Quintin said. “I don’t feel like I stand out when I’m taking pictures.”

Pinhole cameras are little more than boxes with tiny holes in them. They take standard film and their shutters are operated by hand. Quintin’s camera has a wooden slide that she opens to expose the film and then after a few seconds, closes again with a push of a finger. With such long exposures, the cameras have to be used with a tripod to steady them.

Quintin, who had her first show last March at the Harvard Neighbors Gallery, said her photography is a way for her to connect with nature. Taking pictures, she said, forces her to slow down and look when so many others rush by, their minds on where they’re going, not where they are.

The pinhole camera doesn’t have a viewfinder, so unlike other photographers, Quintin can’t see exactly what image she’s shooting before exposing the film. With experience, she knows what she’ll get, but the unexpected still shows up now and then.

“There’s definitely little surprises, nice surprises,” Quintin said.

Quintin said she’s been pleased with how the camera handles motion and has been experimenting more with moving water. That has brought her to the beach recently, where she’s shot the ocean as it draws away and runs back to shore.

“With water, it captures motion really well,” Quintin said. “It’s definitely relaxing for me. I like the subject matter and being in a natural environment.”