No. 717

8 Exposures...with Ghee Dondlinger

Patrick Tobin, | Jan 28, 11:00 AM

Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our popular instant film Q&A series. This week, we are very happy to bring you German photographer Ghee Dondlinger

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

I own two SX-70 models, one of which is a sonar, which is the model I prefer as at allows me to use auto focus; and I also own a Supercolor 635 CL model which I use primarily in low-light conditions.

2) Why do you like instant photography?

I like lo-fi photography in general for its unpredictability and the way the images turn out less than perfect. Instant film in particular I enjoy because they add their own specific sense of ‘unreal’ to the resulting image, a somewhat painterly quality. And for the challenge to make every exposure count. Also, in this digital age, it’s nice that there still are a few things which you can actually touch and hold.

3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?

I think my first conscious exposure to instant film was a book published in 1984 by singer/songwriter David Sylvian. Entitled ‘Perspectives’, it featured collages made from Polaroid photographs. My first hands-on experience with instant film was when I moved to Berlin and one of my flatmates owned a Polaroid camera, which was much used by everyone living in or visiting the flat.

4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

I’m using both the new PX 70 PX 680 protection films and get great results with both, but the 680 has gradually turned out to be my favorite film. I also enjoy the PX 100 and PX 600 Silver Shade Cool films, but there no favorites (yet).

5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

In general I prefer urban themes. That can be people in the streets, but also architecture, or simply ‘urban fragments’ – details that document city life. For example, this summer I photographed a lot of disused buildings and public spaces that became occupied by squatters, urban nomads or artists; focusing not so much on the buildings but rather on the details of how this occupation expresses itself – be it urban art or improvised living spaces.

Furthermore, I also like working with themes that reflect a city’s history – cemeteries for example.

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

I’m always busy shooting all around Berlin – that is kind of an ongoing project. Also, I haven’t done much people photography with the Polaroid cameras yet, so that’s a project I would like to start on, although I have yet to find the right approach.

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

I like artists who have a more spontaneous, less formal approach to photography. Nan Goldin is one of my favorites, as is Mark Morrisroe, a portrait photographer who used to work and experiment a lot with Polaroids, and who also liked to include technical imperfections in his photos. There are also ‘amateur’ photographers like writer Allan Ginsberg who put together a remarkable collection of portraits over the span of his life; or Japanese photographers like Masatoshi Naitoh whose photos illustrate the changing face of post-WWII Japan.

And harking back to David Sylvian, I also like the collection of new instant photographs which he put together for his recent ‘Glowing Enigmas’ exhibition and catalogue (done in co-operation with Impossible Project).

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

I’ve been to India, but not to Northern India, and not with my Polaroid cameras. So that’s one project I hope to embark upon sometime. The colors of India and the Polaroids should be an ideal match. Also, people in India are a lot less averse to having their picture taken than people in the West are, so a trip there should also provide plenty of opportunities for more portrait photography.

About Ghee

Originally from the tiny country of Luxembourg, I have been living in Berlin, Germany, for a while now. A software developer by profession, I worked in oil painting before turning to lo-fi, analogue photography some eight years ago. I also enjoy traveling a lot, and a large portion of my photographic output stems from trips to various corners of the world. When time permits, I also shoot and construct digital videos on the Mac.

To see more of Ghee’s work, visit his Flickr photostream. You can also follow him on Twitter at @gheedon.

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