Hi there, instanteers. Welcome back to 8 Exposures, our instant film Q&A series. This week, we bring you New Mexico-based Juli Werner…
Q1) What kind of Polaroid camera(s) do you use?
A: I have 14 Polaroid cameras in my collection, give or take. The ones that I use the most are an original SX-70 that I mainly use to shoot expired Polaroid 600 film and two SX-70 Alphas that I use for Impossible films. I also love my SLR 680 and Spectra. I have a couple of different cameras for peel-apart film, but my favorite is the 250 that I bought from Dave Bias a few years ago. I love being able to have a couple of different cameras loaded up with different films.
Q2) Why do you like instant photography?
A: Because it’s magic. It captures a moment in time like no other medium. And it brings joy to so many people, myself included. Instant film always makes me feel better. If I am down or having a bad day, shooting a few shots seems to turn things around. Magic!
I also love the imperfections of instant film. I tend to be a perfectionist, but instant film forces me to let go and be open to anything that happens. I find that I eventually fall in love with most of my instant shots, even the ones that I initially cast aside as mistakes. I even love the film jams that occasionally happen. The color changes that some of the Impossible films go through are incredible.
I am so grateful that The Impossible Project took on the task of reinventing instant film because I don’t know what I would do without it.
Q3) What is your earliest memory of instant film?
A: To be honest, I have a horrible memory, but since my parents have at least one album full of instant shots, I know that many were taken throughout my childhood. I still have the two Sun 600 cameras that my dad used back then.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1993 that I was re-introduced to instant film. My best friend and I met two guys who were traveling from Seattle to New Orleans. They had a Polaroid camera – a Sun 600 most likely – and were documenting their trip. I thought that it was the coolest idea ever! I immediately decided that next time I was at my parents’ house, I was going to “borrow” one of my dad’s Polaroid cameras. I don’t think I’ve taken a long road trip without a Polaroid since then.
Q4) What’s your favorite Impossible Project film type?
A: This is a tough question for me, because I love all the Impossible films. And I always have to try each new film that is released. It’s a bit of a compulsion, I suppose. I love the PX 680 Gold Frame film, and I can’t wait to shoot more of it on our upcoming road trip. The colors are so intense. PZ 680 is another favorite. And I have a soft spot for all the PX 70 films. The latest test film is absolutely mind-blowing. The PX 100 UV+ is a favorite as well. It has such a timeless quality to it.
Q5) What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: Looking at my photostream on Flickr, the obvious answer is cats and flowers. And self-portraits. But they aren’t the only things that I like to photograph, I just happen to work from home and tend to photograph what’s around me. Other things that I love to photograph: trees, the beach, vast and barren landscapes, and clouds. I also love to document things: celebrations, rock shows, parties, birthdays, road trips. It’s become a tradition to take instant shots of me and my husband on our anniversaries as well as birthday portraits/self-portraits. I have self-portraits from New Year’s Eve that date back to 1998 or so. And I always take a Polaroid camera – or three – when we travel. I love being away from home and shooting things that I don’t see every day. (Of course I still end up with a few cat and flower shots.) I used to take a lot of candid shots of our friends, but I don’t seem to do that so much anymore. Shooting portraits is something I’d like to focus on again.
Q6) Tell us about a project you’re working on.
A: I don’t really have a specific project; just some ideas floating around. Right now I am thinking a lot about some of our upcoming travels, particularly our road trip to Pittsburgh. I plan to take portraits of our friends on Impossible films. And I think some of the Silver Shade films are going to be perfect for capturing the city. I want to take some photo walks in a couple of my favorite neighborhoods there. Last time we visited, I didn’t really get a chance to walk around with my cameras.
I’d also like to take more photographs around New Mexico. I grew up here but there are so many places that I have never been. This idea may end up being something more specific like photographing all the old churches or vintage motel signs. I need to start taking some day trips and see what happens.
Q7) Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?
A: I am inspired and amazed by the instant photography that I see from my Flickr contacts every single day. It would be difficult to pick one or two favorites. It’s such a wonderful community, and it’s been so much fun getting to know other people who share the same obsession for instant film. I love checking out what everyone’s been shooting, instant or otherwise.
Heather Champ and Alison Garnett are two people that I have to mention because both of them have inspired me so much over the years. I’ve learned about so many different cameras and films from following their work online. Both are amazing photographers and so incredibly creative in all that they do.
Some of my favorite well-known photographers are Walker Evans, Stephen Shore, Nan Goldin, and Robert Frank. And I’ve always loved Allen Ginsberg’s Photographs.
Q8) If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?
A: My husband and I travel across the country by car a lot, but we usually have to get to where we are going in a set of amount of time. One thing I would love to do someday is to take a long, meandering road trip, one that has no time restraints and is more about the photographing of the journey and not just the destination.
I’m a fiber artist and runner living in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband Will Dyar and our two cats, Rocky and Simon. Some might say that I am obsessed with food, cats, vampires and Steelers football. And, of course, instant film.
Thanks very much to Juli for taking part in 8 Exposures! To see more of her work, visit her Flickr Photostream