No. 379

8 Exposures...with Lou Noble

Patrick Tobin, | Apr 20, 12:00 PM

Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film Q&A series! This week, we bring you polaroid portrait wizard Lou Noble

Q1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?

A: I use two Polaroid cameras, a Polaroid SLR 680 and an SX-70. I’ve got loads in my apartment, but they’re decorative more than anything else. I’ve gone through my packfilm period, my simple Polaroid period, used a Big Shot for a bit. But there’s just nothing like the SX-70 and its kin that fits me better, the amount of control I like, the quality I require, the form factor, hell, even the little noises the motors make in the SLR 680, that there is music to my ears.

Q2) Why do you like instant photography?

A: I love it because it’s utterly unique. Unique in the pictures that are created, in the interactions using such strange cameras creates between you and your subject, unique in the palette, in the creation of a physical artifact. I’ve been using Polaroid since 1996, it’s been with me for, well, for the majority of my life. Polaroid is responsible for my love of photography.

And it’s not really about film, it’s about Instant film. It’s about having it immediately, about creating this little piece of work that you made mere moments ago, and having it in your hands, showing the person you photographed what you saw, that this picture right here is how I see you.

Q3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?

A: I was around 18, found my mom’s Sun 600 in her closet, after reading about one in a Stephen King story. Used that thing for years, until it stopped working while at summer camp. Stopped working at just the right time, though. Jesus, writing that, I realized I’ve been shooting with instant film my entire adult life. Heavy.

Q4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

A: Tough one. My favorite type of Impossible film, so far, is the PX 680 FF. I’ve found it really consistent, I’m digging the way the colors change with the color temperature.

Q5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

A: People. Always. Only. With me, that’s what photography is for, it’s a way of getting to know people, connect with people. It’s an excuse to hang out with someone, to ask ‘em all sorts of questions, to investigate, interview, interact.

Q6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.

A: I’m currently finishing up a project on couples, a book I’ve been working on since last year. Went around the country last summer, interviewed and photographed dozens of couples about their relationships, why they work, how they deal with conflicts, how certain factors affect them. Hope to be finished in the next month or so!

Q7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?

A: In no particular order: Richard Avedon, Julia Galdo, Kevin Mason, Laura Taylor, Autumn De Wilde, Aaron Feaver, Martin Schoeller, Ian Broyles, Ryan McGinley, Annie Liebovitz. I adore the way each of them capture people, all vastly different, but all thoroughly engaging. They’ve all got styles that are very much their own, that I can pick out of a crowd of photos. That counts for a lot, in my book. Being able to bring your own personality to bear on a photograph in such a way that it’s your own, that in an artistic field that’s as crowded as photography you can stand out, that’s the ideal. That’s what these folks are able to do with aplomb. There’s lots of good photographers out there, lots of folks who can take a pretty picture, but these folks show me something about their subjects, show me something far richer than just a pretty picture.

I like lots of of photographers, but these folks, hands down, all-time favorites.

Q8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?

A: President Obama. Or my grandfather, who passed away about sixteen years ago. He was a photographer, never got to see me pick it up.

About Lou

“I was born, raised and hope to one day die in Los Angeles. I work as a set medic.”

Special thanks to Lou for taking part in 8 Exposures. To see more of his work, please visit his site,

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