No. 428

8 Exposures...with Heather Polley

Patrick Tobin, | May 18, 12:00 PM

Photo by Nick and Dave Photography

It’s time for another foray into 8 Exposures territory. This entry revolves around California photographer Heather Polley

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

I have several folding SX-70s, as well as a plastic box-type Pronto SX-70. For pack film, I shoot an Automatic 104 Land Camera. My dad is conveniently a vintage camera dealer. He recently gave me three Spectra cameras that are so new to me, I haven’t had a chance to shoot them yet.

2) Why do you like instant photography?

Instant film breathed new life into my work. I’ve always been an analog photographer, and I work a lot with alternative print processes because the element of chance brings a freshness and beauty that you don’t often see in digital work. I like happy accidents and imperfections. I shot with 35mm film for many years, but I have found that shooting instant film adds a new layer of complexity to my compositions.

3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?

Most of the pictures my parents took of me as a child were with a Polaroid camera, probably a One Step. It was there for every milestone and event while I was growing up.

4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

I’m partial to the PX 100 Silver Shade, especially the generation right after the First Flush. I just love the way it responds to temperature (especially cold) and atmospheric changes. I experimented with blasting the PX 100 First Flush with a hair dryer, which is why a lot of my earlier pieces have a higher contrast and a redder color.

5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

I photographed architecture for many years, but lately I’ve been working more with still life and landscapes. I’m drawn to anything without a person in the frame, basically!

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

I scanned some of my still lifes taken with the PX 100 First Flush and made platinum/palladium prints on tissue paper for a series called Twice Removed. I have another series of color still lifes taken with Fade To Black Film. I’m also working on a series of landscapes taken in Pt. Reyes north of San Francisco with Type 100 Chocolate film and various generations of Silver Shade film.

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

My favorite photographers are Eugene Atget, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Todd Hido, and I love the series Attracted to Light by Doug and Mike Starn. I recently saw a retrospective of Francesca Woodman’s work at SFMOMA that knocked me out. Many anonymous 19th-century daguerreotypes and albumen prints have had the biggest impact on my alternative processes work. I’ve also gotten inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints and Dutch still life paintings.

My favorite instant photographers are probably contemporaries on Flickr. David Sankey’s work was the first work I saw on the PX 100 First Flush film, oddly enough on Asthmatic Kitty Records’ website. I credit him with my discovery of The Impossible Project and all my work that came from it. I also love the work of Andrew Millar, Laura Watt, Ludwig West, Amanda Mason, and JL Pictures.

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

I would love to have an entire day to photograph the interior of The Paramount Theatre, a spectacular Art Deco movie palace in Oakland, CA.

About Heather

I am a San Francisco-based fine-art photographer and manager of a boutique that represents local artisans. I am also an absolute music obsessive, and I have been thinking about trying performance photography.

To see more of Heather’s work, please visit her Flickr photostream, her Facebook page and her Tumblr. You can also follow her on Twitter at @sfphotogirl.

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