WE Q+A: Richard Pilnick, Photographer


Richard Pilnick calls photography ‘a moment captured’, a medium through which he shares unspoken messages, a doorway to different cultures and traditions. The English photographer is noted for the unobtrusive manner with which he relaxes his subjects, invariably imbuing their faces with serene and unperturbed expressions. Currently he divides his time between a project with a German face reader, and Hipstamaticsnaps | Project 365 +1.

You said you found photography has the ability to break down the material, and physical barriers behind, how?
It’s not so much (about photography as) the medium, but the way one uses the medium of photography that has the ability to break down the barriers we hide behind. I personally believe that we’re all the same. We our souls of this earth and there is no one man greater or lesser than other, everyone has an incredible story to tell. Intuitions and energy play a big part, they help with the initial selection process then patience and a calm manner while you wait for that moment, the energy you give off you get in return. Shooting with a large format camera, you become more involved with the image and there your subject. By isolating the subjects from their surroundings, one can remove the subjects from the world they’re currently occupying bringing us closer to the individual. As a viewer, you look deeper into the eyes, being transfixed and unaware of difference.

It sounds spiritual. You seem quite intrigued and have visited religious villages like Gokarna in India, and dedicating a series focused on yoga.
 Yes I am. I believe in souls and past lives, as well as energy flow. I truly feel we are all here for a reason, from that moment after we’re born we are working towards finding this purpose, that gift. My gift seemed to be photography, and my purpose is to use that gift to make a change, a difference with the way we think and act.

What is so fascinating about people you stumble upon during those trips?
The concept of wealth within the western community is graded through material, which is only one of the elements. One I deem to be of least importance. When I spend time with families and villagers whom have no access to television, internet, limited phone services and intermittent electricity, an automatic reaction is to relate that to another life – your own. Even though these people have less in resources, when you dig deeper you witness something truly astonishing. By letting go of preconceptions, you then see Interactions through generations, living with and off the land, children playing with homemade toys and true love for one another, and their relationship with mother earth.

Who inspired you to go black and white?
Martin Munkacsi whom revolutionised fashion photography in the 20’s and 30’s, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn.

Herve Lewis once said “if you use film you can’t see, so you need to feel it.” Do you relate to his saying?
I understand where he is coming from, but no I don’t. Shooting with film makes one think more.

What have you been up to lately?
“Portraits of a Soul” is a major project I am working alongside with German face reader Eric Standop. Although’ I’ve been working on this project for some time, it’s about to take on a new identity. The images are showcased on a blog, where everyday a new face, a new poem is featured, where Eric with immense accuracy, reads the faces of my images and writes poems about their lives. I have currently brought the project to London, shooting on streets, around Brick Lane and Borough Market. These images will be intertwined with my portraits of Asia.

Published in Issue 37 – BLACK

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