| Sep 21, 11:00 AM
Greetings from Impossible! Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our ongoing instant film Q&A series. This week, we’re happy to bring you Nebraska college professor and photographer Meghan Davidson…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
Most often, I shoot with my SX-70. I love the depth of field that camera allows and the way you can really select the focus. I also love shooting with the Spectra for self-portraits and double exposures, and I have a Polaroid 250 that I need to spend more quality time with. And, I’m really hoping to get my hands on an SLR 680 some day.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
I have a special affection for film, especially instant film. I love when I put a pack in my Polaroid and close the film door, that the camera immediately comes to life, clicking and whirring and shooting out the dark slide. Instant film feels so timeless, so classic to me. There’s simply a magical quality about shooting with it. Because of the limited number of frames, each click of the shutter is special. And that makes me slow down. Instant film helps me be thoughtful and selective in what, when, and how I shoot. There is a deliberate-ness that comes with shooting this film. For me, I feel a wholly different experience when I am shooting with instant film compared to when I shoot digitally. When I’m out with my Polaroid cameras, I find the time to be contemplative. Meditative.
Along with that meditative process, shooting with instant film feels like allowing for the imperfect. It’s like saying “yes” to the flaws, to the not-so-spot-on composition, to the under- or over-exposure. When I’m shooting with instant film, I’m not shooting 20 photographs of the same vintage car to get the shot “just so.” I’m taking my time, looking through my viewfinder composing and re-composing. And then when I feel ready, I click the shutter, usually just once. And I hope for the best. Sometimes the photograph is just what I had in my mind’s eye, and sometimes, many times, it’s not. And that’s all right with me. Shooting with instant film takes practice. And that practice means accepting that imperfections are part of the process — seeing that those imperfections are okay, that they are what make that very image unique and special. It’s finding that the imperfections are what make the photo, actually, quite perfect. I feel it’s all quite metaphorical.
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
I remember my father having an SX-70 when I was a child, and that it was the camera he used to take my picture on first days of school, my birthday, and falling asleep while waiting up for Santa. I clearly remember that tan leather camera, and that it folded closed! I don’t have many photographs of myself as a child, but the bulk of those I have are all Polaroid images.
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I really enjoy shooting photographs that feel vintage, nostalgic, and a bit timeless. I am drawn to objects, scenes, or vignettes that elicit a sentimentality.
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through a 365 photography project. This is the first 365 project I’ve ever done, and I’m enjoying it a great deal (so far). It’s a real learning experience in so many ways and I’m grateful that I’ve taken it on. After this first 365 is completed, I’d really love to do an Impossible 365 project. That might require a benefactor to make that happen, though!
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
I admire the work of so many photographers, both instant and digital shooters. In terms of instant photographers, I’m particularly inspired by the work of Andrea Corrona Jenkins and Chloe Aftel. Andrea’s point of view and love of all things vintage really speaks to me. Her work makes me feel happy. In a very different style, I think Chloe is a master at portraits using instant film. I would like to work on honing my skills with portrait photography and would love to learn from Chloe. In addition to those two remarkable women, I find so much inspiration and enjoy the work of the online Impossible community — Kim Oberski, Sarah Kirkman, Jake Messenger, Ludwig West, Caballos Blancos, and on and on I could go. In terms of photographers more broadly, I find so much inspiration in the self-portrait work of both Meredith Winn and Kristin Zecchinelli, and I adore the work of Kirstin McKee.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
That’s a tough question because I can’t think of many things or people or places I don’t want to photograph. But my current fantasy is to shoot a dinner or event put on by Kinfolk Magazine. That would be amazing. Their whole aesthetic, vibe, and values all really attract me. I think one of their events would look incredible on instant film.
I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but currently live in Lincoln, Nebraska where I am a professor at the University of Nebraska. I am a psychologist and spend my work time researching, teaching, and conducting therapy. I love to fill my free time with photography and travel, and am focusing on using photography to build a creative life.