| Aug 23, 12:00 PM
Greetings, instanteers, and welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film Q&A series. This week’s guest is a good friend of ours from the UK, all-around nice guy and brilliant photographer Benjamin Innocent…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
I have a few instant cameras but have found that I gravitate to 3 that I use often: A Polaroid SLR 680, a Land 250 pack film camera (newly acquired) and an SX-70 Model 1. I find the SX-70 is my most frequently used camera; it was my first folding Polaroid and I adore it. Its design is genius, more a work of art.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
I am fairly new to instant film, however (and this may sound crass), I find this 40-50 year old technology absolutely blows my mind, it is magic! Taking each shot makes me a little giddy with a click, thud, whirr sound. I am very much self-taught/learnt from friends when it comes to taking photographs and I have found that instant photography is where I have settled; it resonates with how I approach making a picture. I love that it slows you down, when you press the shutter button you are committed; no deletes or retakes. The nervous wait to see the image and then you are left with the tangible element that is unique; physically holding an image, passing it round, sticking it up on a wall, giving that one copy away. Even the ritual of opening the smooth card box and loading the cartridge into the camera is absorbing…I am a little obsessed!
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
I was around 12 years old at a friend’s birthday party, her brother had a learning disability and wouldn’t talk to us but he kept asking her for a photo of us all. I still remember he had a 600 model. I remember our amazement as we gathered round and watched it develop, then to me it really was magic. I asked my parents for one but they dismissed it as too expensive. I guess it just burned away in the back of my mind, forgotten, until walking home from a night out i found a Polaroid in the road. It was of a car in an unknown street. Holding it I thought back to my 12-year-old self, that uniqueness of the one-off physical photograph. I wondered where that photo was now of us at the BBQ. I decided that I had waited long enough. By the time I got my grandparent’s old SX-70 1000 camera, the Impossible Project were nearly 2 years into existence. Thanks to Impossible, that little child in me has had the chance to use the materials that I never did when I was younger and yet when using it I feel its magic like I am that child still.
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
A really difficult question as I hail each new Impossible film as my favourite! Each has its own qualities although I tend to use colour films more often. I do think that the chemistry of PX 680 Gold Frame with its gorgeous blue tones was awesome. The COOL film is stunning, the colour pop is so good and stability is outstanding. To be honest whichever film I feed my beloved Polaroid cameras I am just grateful Impossible exists to be able to use them.
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
My easiest answer to this is anything. I love to try and capture the world around me, whether outside or in. I feel so much beauty is overlooked in the moments that surround all of us. I take one of my Polaroids most places and like to just walk with my camera listening to music until something grabs me. I live near a traditional pebble beach of an old seaside town and I love just strolling along the promenade taking photos. I also have an abundance of countryside nearby that I love to explore. I am blessed to live in an area of modest beauty.
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
I have an ongoing project photographing local churches and castles as we have a lot in this area. I am amazed at how they still stand, some from pre-1100 A.D. I think of all the people that have touched or carved the walls. The victories and losses in battle. The turning points in history, I just wander around them in amazement. If those walls could talk…
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
Having no formal photographic training, I have little knowledge of the masters of photography, however, I find myself thoroughly inspired by the instant work on Flickr and the Impossible galleries. Mentioning them all would be a long, long list! So a few to check out, undoubtedly be inspired by and wowed by are The Gentleman Amateur, Toby Hancock, Sarah Kirkham, Juli Werner, Kim Oberski, Toby Marsh…I really could go on, through one medium there is a world of majestic interpretation. There is such a supportive, enthusiastic and talented community to be found here.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
Okay, at the risk of sounding cheesy…my wife. When I say this I mean having her at ease with herself in front of the camera to let me capture her unrelenting allure as I see it, every single day regardless of Make up/No make up, Happy/Sad, Dressed up/Dressed down. Not the snatched shots I have at the moment. The shot I chose here is one of only a couple I have of her posed.
I am 28 years old and live with my lovely wife on the south coast of England. We are expecting our first child. I am a nurse working in a local hospital.