No. 189

8 Exposures...with Dan Ryan.

Patrick Tobin, | Nov 4, 11:59 AM

Welcome to another exciting edition of 8 Exposures, our new interview series highlighting interesting people using Impossible film. This week we talked with UK-based photographic wizard Dan Ryan.

1) Q: What kind of polaroid camera(s) do you use?

A: I’ve got loads of Polaroids in various states of repair, but day-to-day I normally use a battered, brown SX-70 Alpha and a nice and shiny 180.

2) Q: Why do you like instant photography?

A: I don’t know…Why do you like breathing?

3) Q: What is your earliest memory of instant film?

A: I have a bit of a false memory of instant film which, as it turns out was taken on a Kodak. It was a family snap of a walk, with dad and a backpack. I rediscovered it a few years ago in an old album. My modern love affair with Polaroid came at a party about 6 or 7 years ago, when someone pulled out an old 330 or something – I was blown away with the simple beauty of it.

4) Q: What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

A: I don’t use 600 or Spectra series cameras but I love love love the photos with the PX 600 Black Frame and PX 680. Beautiful stuff, which is seriously making me think about investing in an SLR 680. But in the SX-70 my favourite is still the early Silver Shade stuff. It may be utterly temperamental and wildly unstable, but it can create atmospheres out of nothing, so it really suits what I try and do. That’s why most of the photos here are with that early trail-blazing stuff.

5) Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

A: Ummm…For those who know my photos already they’ll probably know the answer… Flocks of horses and old trees, with the occasional anonymous person thrown in. The more complex answer is anything in forgotten, wild places. The kind of places I like to think magic blurs with reality and myth. That might sound pretentious but I don’t have better words in my vocabulary to describe it…

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

A: My approach to photography is fairly scattergun so I always have 3 or 4 projects on the go, but now I’m trying to rationalise. I’m trying to dig through my archives and get a sense of order to try and make some new exhibitions and I have to do a book…I keep managing to put it off.

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

A: This is probably the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. I don’t really follow celebrity or famous photographers…but there are people I keep going back to time and again. My instant photography enlightenment came in the early days of Polanoid, where people like Carmen de Vos, Esther Z Schnickernackerwasshername, Patrick Winfield, Enrique Frieza (Urizen), Thomas Zomolo (LatalierP), and Brian Henry all made me sit up and go wow. They did more for me than any number of Hockneys, Smiths or Mapplethorpes. Their photos are so wild and wildly different. All uniquely inspirational.

I still return to the styles all over the net and in books and exhibitions that please me. From the subtle beauty of Emilie LeFellic’s stuff (she is also probably shorthand for the amazing Parisian collective), to The Gentleman Amateur’s eye for creating a shot out of nothing, and Mikael Kennedy’s vast landscapes populated by people I think I’d probably like to have a beer with. There are lots more though and sorry I can’t mention them all here, it would be a long list…

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

A: I hope one day I’ll find out the answer to that question…

To see more of Dan’s photography, check out his Flickr Stream, his Polanoid and his blog, A Dream of White Horses

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