No. 517

8 Exposures...with Balthazar Simões.

Patrick Tobin, | Jul 27, 12:00 PM

Greetings from 8 Exposures Land! It’s good to see you again! This week in our instant film Q&A series, we spoke with Balthazar Simões

1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?

My favorite Polaroid cameras are my SX-70 (of course) and a Polaroid 350. I have a Spectra, too and a Polaroid Studio Express 484 that has 4 lenses and is quite fun.

2) Why do you like instant photography?

Because it’s an experience of true magic. Because it’s an instant tangible artifact. Because each image is one-of-a-kind and can’t be reproduced.

3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?

My Grandpa was always the one with the cameras when I was growing up. I can still remember the feeling of watching a polaroid develop when we went to visit my grandparents for Christmas. Most things become less magical as we grow older, but it persists with my experience of instant film. My Grandpa passed away two summers ago and I was recently given all of his cameras. Sadly, he no longer had his Polaroid cameras, but he had quite a few film cameras that I now cherish. One of the cameras still had some film in it, and I just had it developed last week. All the photos were of this vase of tulips. I eventually was able to figure out that they were taken on their last wedding anniversary before he died. At that point he could hardly see and it’s precious to me that those were probably the last photos he ever took.

4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

I’ve adored a few batches of PX 680 (in particular the beta test batch and the batch that had a stripe defect). The PX 70 Color Shade has been very good to me. I have some PX 70 Color Shade Cool on the way (at last!) and I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve taken many shots with various types of the Silver Shade films that I love, but my true love is color.

5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

People. I’m so curious about people. I also get obsessed with certain colors and tones and patterns.

6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.

My biggest ongoing project is my letter and Polaroid project. The letter is my favorite writing medium, and a few years ago I decided to let anyone request a letter from me. A little while after I began writing letters, Zora Strangefields (one of the lovely ladies behind Tickl Magazine) requested one and I included a Polaroid with her letter. After that, I thought that I should be sending Polaroids with all the letters. What I like about both the letter and the Polaroid is that they are each unique and can’t be reproduced. At this point I’ve sent out almost 500 to people all over the world. I choose each Polaroid carefully for the person I’m writing to, and it gets connected to the context of the letter. I scan each letter and Polaroid before I mail them out. This year I plan to put together a book of a small selection of them.

7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?

Picking favorites is so hard for me. I’ll give it a shot: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jan Saudek, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Guy Bourdin, Traci Lynn Matlock, Barbara Nitke, Helmut Newton, Sophie Calle (she’s obviously much more than a photographer). There are so many I’ve left out.

8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?

Old fishermen in Portugal. And Sophie Calle. She’s my hero.

About Balthazar

I’m from a small seaside town in Portugal. I live curiously.

Thanks to Balthazar for taking part in 8 Exposures. You can follow him on Twitter at @callmebalthazar.

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