Hello friends, and welcome back to 8 Exposures, our ever-popular instant film Q&A series. This week, we are pleased to bring you California photographer Patrick J. Clarke…
1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
I was lucky and bought some Polaroids before the prices started going up….and I’m a bit of a camera nut, so I have more than a few.
My first Polaroid camera was actually my son’s One 600. It’s the camera that got me back into using instant film and then discovering The Impossible Project.
I have an SX-70 Sonar that’s been with me since First Flush came out, and then recently got my Uncle Larry’s SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 2 with the split-viewfinder. It’s been dubbed “The Uncle Larry” for obvious reasons. I love the Sonar, but I’ve been shooting with the Model 2 a lot more since it’s smaller than the Sonar, beat up looking and I love the split viewfinder in it.
I had a Spectra, but it started smelling like it was on fire every time I used it, so I replaced it with a black and red Spectra 2 with a close-up lens and the copy stand. I haven’t had a chance to play with it much, but love the Spectra format and will be using it more soon.
For pack film, I started with a Land 340, and a 210, but then I got a Land 250 and fell in love with it. It’s got the best viewfinder of any of the Land Cameras.
2) Why do you like instant photography?
I think instant photography combines the instant nature of digital photography, the strictness of analogue photography and mixes in a bit of traditional painting to make a very unique capturing medium that you can’t mimic.
I love being able to see an image in my head, shoot it, and quickly, but not instantly, see the results appear before me. You still have to slow down, but you can get pretty quick feedback and only having 8 frames puts the pressure on to see the only the good shots.
3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
My earliest memories were my Mom snapping polaroids at birthday parties, vacations and any time something happened. My Dad was more of the photographer, but he used his Rolleicord or Canon and it wasn’t as often and it ended up being in a slide show when he wanted to bring out the projector. My Mom would just shoot everyday stuff, like me losing a tooth, or showing off a new Hot Wheel, and I loved the idea of capturing those everyday life things as important keepsakes and watching them develop right in front of me.
4) What’s your favorite Impossible film type?
I love black and white film in general, so my first love is PX 600 Silver Shade Black Frame. To me, it’s “The Impossible Project” film. I started with First Flush and when Silver Shade Black Frame came out, it was such a great leap in quality and look that I couldn’t get enough of it…and that black frame was just plain cool.
But, after shooting PX 70 Color Protection, I am a die-hard PX 70 fan. I like that I don’t have to use an ND filter with my SX-70 and I love the contrast and clarity that the PX 70 has. Being able to shoot in the sunlight and not having to worry about boxes or bags and rushing into the dark like a vampire is such an amazing thing for anyone that has been shooting Impossible film for awhile. If Impossible made a black frame version of PX 70, I’d be in heaven.
5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
One part of me loves taking pictures of mundane things, but putting them center stage. I don’t try to idolize them, but try to appreciate the object as it is, especially if I find them in a setting that is different than they were originally intended.
The other part of me, as anyone that looks at any of my work will see, is how much I love photographing my beautiful wife. She is such a joy and I’m always fascinated the way light falls on her.
6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
I am continuing my experimentation of putting Impossible film in cameras they weren’t made for. I started with my RB67 and Silver Shade, but I am now focusing on using my Graflex Speed Graphic 4 X 5 with the new PX 70 and PX 680 Color shade film. I like having total control over the exposure and depth-of-field and the 4 X 5 gives me that control as well as great look when coupled with Impossible film.
To complement that I am also starting to use the new Color Protection film and my SX-70 to document the adventures that my wife and I go on. The idea started when I was shooting 6 X 9 film and only had 8 shots in a roll. A buddy of mine suggested shooting 8 shots that made up a story, and then presenting the roll as a single, long transparency. I tried it once and loved it. So, when I took my first trip to New York I wanted to try something similar. I had a such a great time shooting 16 images that said “New York” to me, and look forward to putting them up as an entire group on the wall.
7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
It might sound cliche’, but I look up to Ansel Adams for his technical skills and how he always embraced experimental things in photography, Henri Cartier Bresson for making me appreciate the moment, Bill Cunningham for being Bill…nice, honest and unimposing, and Alfred Stieglitz and his photos of Georgia O’Keefe. His relationship with O’Keefe really hits close to home for me.
Impossible Flickr users are too many to mention all of them, but people like Justin Goode, rommel©, kimunscripted, The Gentleman Amateur, lawatt, andrewmillar14, tenminutes, Andrew Bartram (WarboysSnapper), Dylan Boyd, anniebee, Bozowizard, and tobySX70 are all very active and are constantly pushing the envelope of what you can do with Impossible film.
8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
I would love to do product photography with Impossible Project film for a catalog for a cool brand like Anthropologie, Swatch, Urban Outfitters, etc. Combining Impossible film with cool brands really is an exciting market.
Patrick J. Clarke lives in Temecula, California, and spends his work day as a Senior UX Designer at Slacker Radio. Most other times he is on some sort of adventure and can be seen with at least 2 cameras in hand and some sort of plan on capturing the world around him.
To see more of Patrick’s photography, please visit his Flickr photostream. You can also follow him on Twitter at @patrickjclarke.