Hi there, friends! Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film question & answer series. This week, we spoke with Phoenix, AZ-based Sean Rohde…
1) Q: What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
A: Loaded Question! I mostly use my 190 and 195, but I also have a 180, Fuji Fotorama FP-1, Mamiya Universal, Crown Graphic with Polaroid and Fuji backs, SX-70 Model 2 (white), SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 2 (black and modified for 600), Colorpack III, Big Swinger 3000, and some other stuff, plus things I have owned and sold in the past, like a Konica Instant Press and modified roll film cameras, as well as various plastic hard case and folder cameras. I would love to have a 185 to complete my collection, but they seemed to have gone up in value in the past two years to some ridiculous prices. I have to use my cameras, not just look at them on a shelf.
2) Q: Why do you like instant photography?
A: Well, certainly the fact that it is instant is a draw. Though sometimes I don’t peel my 100 and 80 for six hours so I guess they aren’t always so instant. There is just a certain quality that instant films have that film doesn’t have. Color shifts, textures??…??it all kind of gives photos a vintage quality that I like. Plus, there is (was) such a large variety of film types that there are lots of effects to work with that are inherent in the films. ??Chocolate is different than ID-UV, which is different than PX 70, etc. I’ve shot enough Polaroid by now that I know pretty much exactly how to get the look that I want in most lighting situations for different films. ID-UV in sunlight with a filter, Type 672 as the sun sets, etc.
3) Q: What is your earliest memory of instant film?
A: I received what was probably a Super Shooter (plastic hard case Polaroid) in 1978 for my 8th birthday from family friends. I mostly just shot amazing photos of my gerbils, stuffed animals and friends. Nothing too exciting…not exactly a child Polaroid prodigy. But I have quite a few family Polaroids, even some peel-aparts of my pregnant mother and me at a day or so old.
4) Q: What’s your favorite Impossible Project film type?
A: I’m still working on that one! It has been really hit or miss for me so far with a low success rate. I like the black-and-white PX 600 and I ordered some of the test PX 70 recently. I like a lot of what I see from other users so I’m looking forward to something that will survive being shot in Arizona sun without just blowing out. But I really dig the colors that others have been getting from the recent color films.
5) Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: Mostly things out in the desert. I like abandonment and decay. But I shoot wherever I am, and really enjoy shooting people. There just aren’t that many people out in the middle of nowhere. I was just in New Mexico, and the entire state has a lower population than Phoenix, AZ, and most of the people here live in Phoenix, so a lot of the rest of the state is empty. One of the things I enjoyed about shooting in Japan was the number of people around me. Overall, I’m more of an outside photographer rather than studio or in-home shooting. Some people seem to get away with 2,000 photos taken in their living room. I need to get out and see things. I actually really enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere with nobody around, as well.
6) Q: Tell us about a project you’re working on.
A: I don’t specifically have projects, though I did just put together a book of 35mm photographs from Japan. I mostly have themes that I shoot, which mostly involves desert decay. But I have more of an Eggleston state of mind…I wander around and shoot what catches my eye, rather than specifically seeking out what I see as an idea in my head. Though if I have a model, I will have specific photos I know I want to take.
7) Q: Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
A: William Eggleston, Robert Adams and Stephen Shore, to name a few. I like photography books, so I have a wide range of photographic tastes. I like a lot of Japanese photographers, as well. Oddly enough, I can’t really think of any specific instant photographers. It seems like more of a secondary option for many photographers, like Ansel Adams. There is lots of stuff that I like, but it’s more photo specific rather than photographer specific. I like a lot of the work some of my friends do, like Skorj, and a lot of what I see on Flickr. But I’m also pretty picky and get bored with a lot of it…I like my own work!
8) Q: If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
A: I would love to drag my Polaroid 190 to the top of Everest and take some photos. I’m fairly willing to be burdened down by cameras, and it would be great to take some instant shots in really difficult places that probably haven’t been shot with Polaroid. I was just at Ship Rock in New Mexico, and wondered if I had the first ever Greyhound and the first 190 with ID-UV on top of the “tail” that extends from the main plug.
“I’ve lived in Phoenix, AZ, since 1997 and spent most of my life before that in northwest Indiana. I am currently an RN on a telemetry floor (which is nice because I only work three nights a week with plenty of time to shoot), and previously I spent 10 years doing magazine work. And I made pizza for a long time. I have a greyhound that goes with me on all of my road trips. She sleeps in the truck during the day, and at Motel 6 at night. She seems to enjoy it.”
Special thanks to Sean for taking part in 8 Exposures! To see more of his work, please visit his Flickr Photo Stream