No. 492

8 Exposures...with Kim Oberski

Patrick Tobin, | Jul 6, 12:00 PM

Greetings, instamaniacs. Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film Q&A series. This entry brings you Michigan photographer and good Impossible friend Kim Oberski

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

I primarily use a Polaroid SX-70 original but have recently added a modified Polaroid 110a with integral and pack film backs. Also on the camera shelf: Mamiya RB67 with integral film back, Polaroid rainbow onestep (which was my Grandmother’s), Polaroid 210 (what my mom used 40-some years ago), a Spectra, and a variety of Polaroid 600s.

2) Why do you like instant photography?

I love how instant film has taught me to let go of trying to make an image “perfect.” Sure a divot shows up, one of the chemical pods streaks, or the image is slightly out of focus; it doesn’t matter because those can be the very imperfections which make the image perfect.

3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?

I don’t have an exact memory of when I first remember instant film, it seems instant film/cameras have always been around me somehow. Growing up, every time I looked in the coat closet, I remember seeing the case for a Polaroid 210 Land Camera sitting on the shelf. I remember looking at it, yet unfazed because it was always there. Looking through old photos always contained images taken on instant film. It wasn’t until 2009 when I bought a Polaroid One Step that I really took notice of instant photography. This past year, my mom passed down to me my grandmother’s Polaroid Rainbow OneStep and her Polaroid 210 Land Camera.

4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

This question is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. Sitting at my computer thinking, I can see all my old images shot in various TIP films/batches and there’s something I love about each of the films. I have used almost every single film TIP produced except Fade to Black and the Spectra Softtone. PX 70 PUSH was wonderful for the soft romantic hues it produced when not warmed, PX 680 First Flush was my go-to for a long time because of the slight retro feel, the silver shades for their timeless feel, and now PX 70 for the true color it produces.

5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

My favorite subjects to shoot is anything which includes a person. A long time ago, I learned I am not a landscape photographer. For me, people add a certain element to a photograph, they become the anchor in my images. Before almost every photo I take, I ask “what story/message am I trying to capture?” If I can’t answer the question, I don’t take the photo. This doesn’t mean every photo has deep meaning, many times I simply want to have a snap shot of today and what is occurring around us.

This past Memorial Day weekend, we were at my parents’ house and there was a box filled with photos from when my great grandmother and grandparents where younger than I am now. I remember looking at the photos filled with people I love and feeling a connection to the image. My grandfather, who suffered from MS, was standing and swimming in lakes – something I was never able to actually see him do. Then I think about a Kickstarter project introduced to me a week or so ago about a grandson wanting to scan all of his grandfather’s old slides to make into a book, the images are phenomenal!!! This gentleman took photographs of beautiful scenery, yet almost all were anchored with a person in the frame. In my mind, images with people makes me wonder about who they are (if I don’t know them already), what is their life like, or what are they thinking.

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

My goal for this summer is to teach my girls the basics of photography, light, composition, and shutter speed. They each have their own Polaroid and film but tend to shoot a lot of objects laying around their bedrooms. You can only image what those images look like :). All the kids who come over to play are fascinated with my Polaroid and instant film so I would love for my kids to be able to document their summer vacation with friends on instant film. fingers crossed

A long term “project” I like to think I’m doing is capturing life. I’m always encouraged by photographers such as Vivian Maier, who didn’t use her camera to make money or try to win fame. She captured life around her because she could. My greatest hope would be that one day someone else will appreciate the snippets of my life as much as my family does.

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

I hate naming favorites because I’m drawn more to specific images before I even know who took the photo. BUT a few instant photographers I am almost always drawn to their images are Emilie Le Fellic, Brian Henry, and Ludwig West. All three have a distinctive style I can pick out without even knowing who took the photo.

Sally Mann is also a huge favorite. Her work with wet plate collodion and her family is unique and inspiring. A few years ago, I was at the NYC MOMA and saw Sally’s image of her daughter sitting in a chair. The image was simple yet captivating. I walked out of the museum forgetting the name of the photographer but the image burned in my mind. Later that year, a friend posted the same MOMA image as inspiration on her FB wall, I’ve never forgotten Sally Mann since. What I wouldn’t do to learn from her.

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

I think I would like to be able to take a photo of God in heaven, and still live to show everyone the photo.

About Kim

Currently, I’m taking a break from portrait photography work in Southeast Michigan to focus on keeping my flickr and blog filled with images of my own children.

To see more of Kim’s work, please visit her Flickr photostream. You can also follow her on Twitter at @kimunscripted

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  1. I love this edition of 8 Exposures! I’ve been a big fan of Kim’s work for a while now. Her photographs have so much emotion. Part of that is the emotion of the film but she has a way of capturing people which is so telling. Truly inspiring!

    said Briana Morrison | 1537 days ago
  2. One day, when I grow up, I would love to take portraits like Kim. Probably never happen though cause (a) I’m already older and (b) there is only one Kim :) Love this 8 Exposures. Pure and simple.

    said Meredith | 1541 days ago