| Jun 15, 10:00 AM
Hi there, Impossibles. Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film Q&A series. This week, we’re happy to bring you one of the original members of the Save Polaroid movement, Justin Craigen…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 1, SX-70 Model 1 Sonar, Spectra, 450, and a pinhole camera with a packfilm back.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
It’s a variety of reasons. One that has been particularly important is the social aspect of the medium. Instant photos are, more than any other type, perfect for sharing with others. More importantly, getting involved with instant photography has brought me into contact with a large number of absolutely wonderful and inspiring people that otherwise, I would have likely never met. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a handful of them in person, and so far all are as good, or better, in the flesh.
There’s also the element of unpredictability that comes with the medium. It forces the photographer into a zone where the varying degree of lack of control is embraced. And with Impossible’s in-house produced films, there has been a real effort required to get predictable results. It’s much less of a struggle now, but even so, I find that the emotional payoff of a successful image is significantly greater than with other types of film, or digital photography.
I also enjoy the manipulations that can be done—partly for aesthetics, and partly because once a manipulation is made, there’s no going back. The unique nature of each shot forces the manipulator to commit to the process in a way that digital manipulation is totally lacking. Go too far, and there’s no recovering the original shot. If you screw up, that’s it. It’s gone. And then the process of deciding if there’s still a valid image in the result begins.
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
In high school, a friend had a 600 camera and was taking some photos of classmates. Nice stuff, not just nudie stuff. Some of that too, though, which is a reputation that can be hard to get away from with the medium.
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
Oh…god. One of the early test film batches that I was a test photographer for, I think it was Type 42. That was temperamental, but when it clicked, I still think it was the most lovely of the b&w films (even if it was, under some lighting, more sepia than true b&w).
Also Fade to Black, Artistic Time Zero, and the Chocolate and Sepia pack film. Technically, yes, Polaroid stuff, but Polaroid would never have done anything other than trash the materials without TIP. So, nuts to Polaroid, those (along with the Blue 100) are TIP film in my eyes.
Fade to Black and Type 42 then, are my favourite Impossible films. I hope that the factory crew can pull of a miracle and give us something comparable to FtB someday. I would rather have that than a true Time Zero replacement, personally (boy, I bet I will get some raised eyebrows with that statement).
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Landscapes, architecture, and still lives. Still lifes? Those too. I’ve never been a big fan of doing portraiture, but that has slowly been something that’s becoming more interesting to me.
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
I’ve never done a formal project. I’ve always felt that it would take some of the fun out of photography for me, and I got into it for a fun creative escape from the university design studio setting—no deadlines, no project guidelines, no restrictions. I would like to take portraits of the group of instant shooters that I have become closest to, though. Fantastic looking people, all of ‘em.
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
I’m leaving far too many people out…but here goes (grab a snack):
Chris Paquette and Grant Hamilton are two I have to mention first as it was features of their work (in the same issue of JPG magazine) that got me interested in photography, particularly instant photography. Both had work that was far from what I associated with instant film, and were directly responsible for the start of my own addiction. A Flickr user that many will be familiar with is The Gentleman Amateur—fantastically moody work that evokes cinematic stills. Andy Jenkins. Ben Parks. Kelly Knaga. Cait Youngquist. Lou Noble. Tod Brilliant. Annie Bowerman. Sol Lange. Flickrer pennyfelts. Whitney Johnson and Dave Tuttle (slowly merging into one photographic super-power). Sandra (lavueltaaldia on Flickr). Sean Tubridy. Kate Pulley. Ritchard Ton. Trask Bedortha. Laura Watt. Leah Reich. Dan Ryan. Enrique Woolfolk. Rebekka Guoleifsdottir (that’s without the Icelandic accents). Reilly Lievers. Phil Bebbington (Flickr’s fantastic Terrorkitten). Gary Isaacs. Jeff Rinehart. Katie West. Patrick Schmidt. Kristamas Klousch. original_ann and her sister sMacshots. Michael Kenna. Nicholas Hughes. Adam Makarenko. Bill Vaccaro. Jason Evans (The Daily Nice). Kris Brandhagen. Kris Brandhagen (she’s worth mentioning twice). The usual classic masters.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
Oh…portraits of more of the fine folks that I have met through the medium (so far, I’ve taken two, and only one was actually good). Maybe a double rainbow. My fantastic and wonderfully photogenic roommate. More cats. Sexy vintage cars. Mountains. Lakes. Rivers. Oceans. Beaches. Beach babes. Beach dudes. Fancy pipes. Tattoos. John Waters. Edwin Land’s ghost. Rabbits. Roosters. Old buildings. Old people. Bacon. Nothing at all. Everything.
Justin is currently living in Saskatchewan, working as a freelance graphic designer. He thinks the film vs digital argument is ridiculous, and prefers the Rolling Stones to the Beatles.
To see more of Justin’s work, please visit his Flickr photostream