Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our ongoing instant film Q&A series. This entry focuses on UK photographer Andrew Bartram…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
Mainly SX-70 Originals, I have two of those but one has recently stopped working, SLR 680, 250 and 103 Automatic Land Cameras.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
I can’t draw, paint or play a musical instrument so, along with my passion for the darkroom instant photography allows me an accessible creative release from the day job.
Although I have been a film user and printer for 25 years I have only been into instant photography for the last year when I bought my first 600 box camera on Ebay, shortly followed by my first SX-70. I love the sheer unpredictable nature of the Impossible films, even the fabulous Color Protection film behaves in different ways depending on light, heat and the variables associated with your camera. So it’s that unpredictability, the uniqueness of each image combined with those wonderful Polaroid Cameras that I love about instant photography??
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
That’s a real tricky one – I remember reading about emulsion lifts in an photographic journal in the 1980s – that seemed pretty cool. The thought of actually shooting a Polaroid all those years back never occurred to me, I was too busy getting super sharp black and white images in the darkroom. You know what they say, you never really appreciate something till it’s gone…..
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
I have been STAGGERED by the new CP films, I thought the COOL stock was pretty good but you still had to mess around with shielding. The earlier First Flush color films gave real nice results and I kind of miss those but hey, a big well done to the Impossible Folk for giving us that wonderful CP film.
I also shot a lot of the Paul Giambarba Blue Film marketed by the Impossible Project, like a lot of older Polaroid material it’s becoming hard to track down now at a reasonable price
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I have never had a favourite subject, as a famous American photographer said “I photograph things to see what they look like photographed”, that seems like a pretty good reason to me. Having said that I am really getting into portraits of strangers using the new Color Protection film. If you try to go up to an interesting character and stick an iPhone in their face you’ll probably end up wearing it!, approach them with an SLR 680, and SX-70 or a Polaroid Land Camera and you immediately have something to talk about, they are put at ease and almost always agree to have their picture taken. They are a bit surprised that they have to wait 30 mins to see the result though so I do try to go back and show them the finished result and occasionally give a copy away although that breaks my heart!
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
Impossible Faces is an emerging project – see previous answer, hoping to develop that on our trip to Vietnam in 2013.
Also I’ve been using the Polaroid Type 100 Blue film in my 250 Land Camera to photograph groups of swans on the River Ouse in Cambridgeshire, the film really seems to suit this subject and each image can never be repeated as the swans tend not to behave to order!
Expired Polaroid 669 has also become a big fave over the last 6 months although its becoming expensive to buy.
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
Where do you want me to start, I guess up to date favourites on Flickr include “The Gentleman Amateur” for, in particular his beautiful expired Polaroid shots, “Rommel” for his wonderful Impossible Images using SX-70 and medium format cameras, Peter McCabe for his Impossible, expired Polaroid and film studies of the female form and the talented Ben Innocent for his creative and engaging Impossible images. Sorry to single out four names as all my Flickr and twitter contacts continue to inspire me day in day out with their wonderful skills and knowledge.
I love reading about and looking at the images of Walker Evans, Garry Winogrand and Robert Frank, all great American Photographers. I was recently given a copy of Dune by Edward and Brett Weston and their sand dune images are just staggering.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
That’s anther toughie….if it were a person then I’d say anyone with a face that speaks of a life well led…..if it is a place then I try looking out my back door or in the Fens of Cambridgeshire. It’s a great challenge to see your local environment through strangers eyes, to recognise beauty in what for you, is the everyday and even mundane.
Born and raised in Great Yarmouth on the East Coast of the UK been living in the Cambridgeshire Fenlands for 12 years with my Wife and two children.
Day time job too boring to mention but big love to Darkroom and anything analogue – even my kids are beginning to get it!
To see more of Andrew’s work, visit his Flickr photostream. You can also follow him on Twitter at @warboyssnapper.