| Oct 8, 11:00 AM
Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our popular instant film Q&A series. This entry focuses on Virginia photographer Caleb Jenkins…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
As of now I have a single SX-70 Sears Special with the original skin, two 600 cameras, two Spectra cameras and one 420 Land Camera. Among those, my SX-70 is my favorite and most used. I love the history and pop culture behind the SX-70 camera and how vintage and iconic it is. I’m a big fan of the 70s, so my SX-70 is a perfect fit for me.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
Seeing as this question has been answered many times before me it’s quite hard to sum up an answer that isn’t anywhere near cliche. I guess I’ll have to go ahead and conform to all other answers, because instant photography is simply magical. I love that with each image I take, it’s the only image that will ever look that way. It’s truly a single edition. One main reason that I’ve been pulled into instant photography is that I feel it brings me back to reality. Having grown up in a digitally prosperous generation that knows no such thing as simplicity I find it refreshing to be a part of something that doesn’t need wifi or cables to work. And as simple as it is, it’s challenging at the same time. I hate that digital photography seems so clean and way too easy to take. If I ended this section right there then I’d be leaving out a major reason. Without a doubt, the Impossible and instant photography community is the greatest community to be a part of. Everyone is helpful, friendly and just easy to get along with. I’ve made numerous friends through instant photography that otherwise I would have never known, and I thank instant photography for that. Overall, the feelings I get from instant photography are almost impossible to put into words, but as we all know, nothing is impossible.
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
Unlike most people, I grew up in a household that was lacking a Polaroid. The only camera I can really remember growing up was a big autofocus Nikon SLR.
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
When I entered the world of Impossible film I started shooting PX 70, so that has to be one of my all-time favorites. However, since the release of the COOL film line that’s been the only film in my SX-70. I’ve noticed though that my tastes in film change with each season. In late autumn and throughout winter, Silver Shade seems to suit my style of photos and then during spring, summer, and early autumn, Color Shade reigns supreme in capturing the wonderful colors and tones that appear in those months.
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I’ll take a photo of anything that I think would look great once captured. However, I’ve come to find out that I enjoy taking macro photos and photos of vintage things of all sorts more than anything, no matter the subject. When I’m not taking macro photos I love to walk around my hometown or nearby cities and search for vintage industrial buildings or industrial-related things that are turning into modern ruins.
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
Back in April I started a project using PX 70 and PX 70 COOL film entitled “Growth”. It chronicles the growth of a garden from start to finish during a time when saving money by means of having a garden is needed more than ever. It was the first garden we tended to since I was a little kid and being older now it was truly a learning experience for me. Before starting the project I had already began using Impossible film, but I knew right away that instant film, more specifically Impossible film, was the correct choice to document the experience. I love how Impossible film and growing a garden connect on so many levels. They both are very unpredictable and many things are out of the hands of the beholder. For example, I have no control over whether or not my photo will develop correctly and I also have no control over the weather itself. Striving to document our first garden in years not only taught me about what I need to know to survive, but I gained valuable knowledge on using my SX-70 and Impossible film. I truly realized that with both gardening and documentation with Impossible film that I must deal with what is handed to me and make decisions based on previous encounters and what is trying to be achieved. That’s what I wanted to achieve with this project. I didn’t want it to just be photos, I wanted it to be an overall learning experience for myself and hopefully others, and I feel I achieved that. As of right now, I’m expecting my last photo of the series to be in the middle of October, but that’s not set in stone.
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
After much consideration, I’ve found that there really aren’t any well-known photographers that are my favorites. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love all of Ansel Adams’ and Andy Warhol’s work along with all of the original Magnum Photographers and LIFE photographers, but if I really had to chose, I’d say that my parents and ancestors who had access to a camera are my favorite photographers. I’ve came to this conclusion, because being able to see family that were way before my time is important in seeing the differences of times between myself and past relatives. Also, it’s immensely important to me to have photos of myself when I was young and being able to look back at those photos in years to come. In addition to the personal importance of photos documenting myself and family, my inspiration for photography lies in previously-stated photographers and photographs, but also the instant film community. The photos I see everyday from the Flickr and Twitter community are getting more amazing as the days go on. The feedback and general conversations I have regularly with fellow twitter folks are truly inspirational to me. It’s yet another part of photography that I thoroughly enjoy.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to travel across the whole of Europe. I’m especially drawn toward ruins both ancient and new in the UK, but what I’d really love to do is travel across all of Europe with an unlimited supply of Impossible film and capture the various cultures and landscapes I encounter while there. I’m obsessed with the idea of shooting photography like this as fine art, but more importantly as documentation and ways to preserve memories, and what better way than to preserve those memories with Impossible film.
Since the start, shooting Impossible Film has become a full time love affair. I have goals of incorporating film and instant film back into people’s everyday lives.
Thank you to Caleb for taking part in 8 Exposures! You can follow him on Twitter at @Caleb_Jenkins.
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