| Jan 6, 11:07 AM
Hello again, instanteers, and welcome back to 8 Exposures! This week, we spoke with Washington, DC-based Ben Shuster…
1) Q: What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
A: I have a couple SX-70s – the Original and the Sonar Onestep – and a Spectra for the current and past integral packs. For packfilm I go with either the Model 340 Land Camera or my Kiev 88 fitted with the Polaroid magazine. I also still have a fair amount of Type 80 series packfilm, and those go straight into my Holgaroid.
2) Q: Why do you like instant photography?
A: Like so many other people, I love its vintage coolness, nostalgia-soaked colors and analog unpredictability. It sets your shots apart from everything else out there. It can take a perfectly normal snapshot and make it perfectly unique. The variety of manipulation and lift techniques really make creative possibilities endless. AND! Name someone you know who doesn’t have a “make my photos look like instant film” app on their phone – you can’t do it. WE know what’s up. WE have the prints to prove it.
3) Q: What is your earliest memory of instant film?
A: I have a Polaroid sitting in a stack of prints somewhere with “X-Mas 1989” written on it. I remember we would take pictures of the tree when I was a kid – I mean, when you think about your childhood, what’s more nostalgic than that?
4) Q: What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
A: Right now it’s the Black Frame PX 600. It’s simple, it’s classic, and I may be in the minority here but I can’t wait for some nice freezing, snowy white weather so I can get out there and “monochrom-atify” my life.
5) Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: I never really go out with a plan because I don’t like to limit myself and I enjoy shooting spontaneously. Living near the colors and chaos of Venice Beach the last few years really spoiled me. I loved everything about it. There was never a shortage of odd characters and sherbet sunsets. When I look at my stuff now, I guess I was trying to photograph a general cross-section of the counter-culture…I threw in the “beachy” stuff for my own comic relief.
6) Q: Tell us about a project you’re working on
A: Well, I mentioned Venice Beach…I actually just moved to Washington, DC and have been trying to get a feel for city. I’ve traded my California mountains for monuments, and celebrities for politicians. Of course I want to photograph the city, but not so much the typical, historical DC. That may come later when I can try an unusual take on it. It’s a mobile city, and through the metro alone I’ve already discovered many great “pockets” that I’d like to continue to explore.
7) Q: Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
A: Aside from Grandpa? I really enjoy Rock ‘N’ Roll fine art photography and am a huge classic rock junkie. Gered Mankowitz is one of my favorites – the shining jewel of my apartment walls is a Rolling Stones print from his “Between the Buttons” shoot with the band. Henry Diltz is another favorite because his photos manage to create such a strong connection to a era in music that happened 20 years before I was even born. His images are just so iconic, my favorites being the “Morrison Hotel” and “Crosby, Stills & Nash” album art. Art Kane is great because his music stuff is so different in a conceptual way. For a quick instant film nod, check out Bobby Klein’s John Belushi/Blues Brothers Polaroid transfer!
8) Q: If you could take an photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
A: Without a doubt, it would be the remaining members of The Doors – Densmore, Krieger, and Manzarek. If we’re allowed to include time travel and/or members of the “27 Club” in this fantasy scenario, let’s get Morrison there too! John, Robby, Ray: have your people call my— me.
Thanks so much to Ben for taking part in 8 Exposures!
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