Hello, 8 Exposures fans! This week, the star of 8 Exposures is Bay Area Dog Portrait Aficionado Jesse Freidin…
1) Q: What kind of polaroid camera(s) do you use?
A: This is a dangerous question, because I am a collector. I own about 30 Polaroid cameras, all salvaged for around $5 from various yard sales over the past 10 years. Most of them are retired, littered throughout my apartment in some sort of display. But many of them work perfectly. My two favorites are the Spectra Image (which I now shoot exclusively with Impossible Film), and the Land Camera 103. They smell good, they feel good, they are like extensions of my body. If my house were burning down, I’d be the jerk with singed hair and 30 instant cameras around my neck.
2) Q: Why do you like instant photography?
A: Instant photography was my first love, and I fell hard. There is something so powerful about making the images in your head exist in the real world, and instant photography has always articulated my personal vision perfectly. As a photographer dedicated to analog means, I will never let go of the physical interaction I have with my cameras and film. With instant film, especially Impossible film, the photographer is forced to intensely connect with their tools, intensely know the ins and outs of each film, and basically create their own unique analog development formula. You must work slowly but with incredible intention. Personally, this forces me to be 100% responsible for my images, and that drive helps connect me on an intimate level with each of my subjects. I feel like a small part of myself gets developed inside each instant image, which is why they are so precious.
3) Q: What is your earliest memory of instant film?
A: I remember my parents had an old Polaroid OneStep when I was maybe 7 or 8. I used to steal it and take pictures of myself and my neighbor with our space-helmets and water-guns climbing the tree in front of my house. Even back then, the weight and tangibility of those magical prints made a strong impression on me.
4) Q: What’s your favorite impossible film type?
A: I started with the Silver Shade films, and was so blown away by the tones. I spend all day looking at warm-toned black and white silver gelatin prints, processing medium format b&w film, and generally thinking in midtones. The Silver Shade was like an instant darkroom print, with a perfect amount of warmth. But when I started using the Color Shade I was transported back to my favorite memories of the original Polaroid Image films. The Impossible Color Shade is easily a step up, though. The warmth and delicacy of the colors and contrast are so much more impressive than original Polaroid stock. If someone offered me a fresh pack of Polaroid Image film or Impossible Color Shade right now, I’d easily take the Impossible film.
5) Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: Right now most of my time is spent creating series of fine art dog portraits for commissioned clients. It’s inspiring work, and very emotional. The images I’m showing here are part of a new series of Instant Dog Portraits that carry that same emotional weight but with an instant, magical quality. When I’m not photographing dogs I am usually out in the middle of a field or at a deserted beach, having a deep moment with the absence of subject. Both kinds of work fuel me equally.
6) Q: Tell us about a project you’re working on.
A: I’ve got two exciting side-projects right now. One is a series of ‘heroes’ and celebrities in both New York and San Francisco, alongside their beloved canine companions. The other project features ‘locals’ and their dogs from various neighborhoods (also in SF and NY), all taken on some of the last remaining Polaroid Sepia pack film. You can see some of these images here: http://jessefreidin.com/2011/11/new-locals-seriesbay-areas-best-dog-photographer-jesse-freidin/
7) Q: Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
A: The photographers I always go back to for solace and inspiration are Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, Elliot Erwitt, and Sally Mann. I love William Wegman’s instant work, of course. I want to get lost in an image, and am drawn toward work that has texture and story, and maybe a little bit of longing.
8) Q: If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
A: This is a terribly hard question. What I love most is relating to my subjects, and watching them relate back to my camera. So if given the opportunity to photograph anything in the entire world, I’d probably grab my buddies, head to the woods, and take portraits with expired Polaroid pack film until the sun went down. That’s sort of my version of heaven.
Special thanks to Jesse for taking part in 8 Exposures this week! To see more of his dog portraits, visit jessefreidin.com