January 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
This past weekend, The Instant Film Society hosted, what was more than likely, the largest gathering of instant film enthusiasts in the state of Texas. More than fifty photographers and lovers of instant film gathered at Makeshift Photography‘s studio in Deep Ellum to participate in a PolaWalk and also have their portraits taken on Impossible’s 8×10 film.
A couple of days before the event, I spent a little time with Steve Reeves, Troy Bradford & Tyler Tyndell at Steve’s studio to get some things organized for this. We met up to talk 8×10 photography, get things set in place for Saturday’s PolaWalk and tested out a few things before we parted ways for the night. While we were there, we decided it would probably be best if we went ahead and knocked out a couple of the portraits before we had the rush of people that we were expecting on Saturday. Tyler took some great BTS photos of our meet up that evening.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was excited beyond belief. I couldn’t wait to get into the studio to set up for this particular PolaWalk. We’ve hosted quite a few since the Instant Film Society was founded, but nothing up to this point, had been as highly anticipated as this particular event. The lure of 8×10 cameras and large format instant film was creating quite a buzz within the photography community. About two weeks ago, I shot 8×10 instant film for the first time and immediately fell in love with the medium. It’s simply incredible. There’s nothing else like it out there in the market place and it’s quite honestly a rarity in a sense. At this point in time, only one company makes it and because of the high cost of materials & tools needed, most photographers don’t ever get a chance to see it or use it. Giving that opportunity to the D/FW instant community was something I was really looking forward to helping provide.
When Synthia and I got to MakeShift Photography’s studio on the day of the PolaWalk, Steve & Erin were prepping for the event and all of us were eager to get things started. Friends of ours started to trickle into the studio and within an hour or so, we were all gearing up for a busy day. I had split the 8×10 photo shoots up into two groups so it wouldn’t be too incredibly busy while we worked and by the time 3 o’clock rolled around, the studio was packed. Steve had his Toyo View 8×10 set up on one side of the studio utilizing a “blackground” and I was set up on the other side with my Burke & James Grover shooting towards a blank wall. Erin was loading up the 8×10 Polaroid holders and running the processor all afternoon and Synthia was scanning the 8×10’s, peeling the images and hanging them up to dry. It was definitely a group effort to get this whole shabang running quickly & smoothly.
When most of the participants had arrived, Daniel Rodrigue took the first group out to walk around Deep Ellum while the rest of us stuck around to start with 8×10 portraits. It was such a cool thing to be able to give this opportunity to these fellow photographers. I assume most hadn’t seen an 8×10 camera before. Everyone it seemed was just in awe of the process and I could tell were all stoked to have the chance to learn about this special way of creating images.
All in all, I think we ended up taking about 25+ 8×10 images and the ones who were photographed were thrilled to have an instant 8×10 portrait of their own. Attached are some of my personal favorites from our time at the studio …
A couple of friends of mine, Daniel Poe & Matthew Hogan were there at this event and I did let them take over and rearrange the setup for their images. These guys are brilliant with off-camera flash and there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to watch them work. They quickly rearranged the octabox & stripboxes for their portraits and when I took the test images on the “digi-roid”, I knew they had crafted something nice …
Because I was in the studio all day, I never had the chance to go out and shoot with the rest of the group that was wandering around Deep Ellum. It was really cool to see all of the great images that flooded into my inbox on Sunday. Here’s a handful of images from the PolaWalk portion of this event …
I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet, but I was interviewed last week by the local ABC news affiliate, WFAA – Channel 8, for a story they are doing on people who choose older forms of technology even when newer more advanced technologies are available. One of the reporters was with the group on Saturday to tape our PolaWalk and ended up interviewing a lot of the participants. After he recorded all of this great footage, Ryan came up to me and told me that they were probably going to do a separate story on our event in addition to the one I was going to be featured in. That’s exciting. It’s promotion for The Instant Film Society and more promotion for instant film in general.
I’m still a little stunned that we had around fifty photographers and instant film enthusiasts join us this past weekend. It’s a testament to the work we’ve been doing for months around the metroplex promoting instant film. On Sunday, when I created the new event page for our upcoming PolaWalk at Klyde Warren Park in February, within 24 hours, we had 30+ people who had signed up to join us. This special community of instant photographers is growing exponentially and I’m really excited to see how it will progress over the next year.
October 5, 2012 § 16 Comments
About a week ago, I got in contact with Daniel Rodrigue, the journalism & photography instructor at Brookhaven College. He had seen a post about the PolaWalk that I was hosting at the State Fair and after a brief telephone conversation, we decided to meet up. When we did, he and I instantly clicked. We’re both like-minded individuals and the passion that we share for instant photography is one in the same. During our meeting, he asked me if I would mind talking to his students at his Photography 1 class about instant film & The Impossible Project. After some thought, I quickly agreed and it was decided that I’d meet with them the following Tuesday.
I messaged The Impossible Project and they were ecstatic that I had the opportunity to help spread the word about instant film and would send some promotional material for the students. I was really excited for the students and also very grateful for the opportunity from Daniel.
I’m not a public speaker. However, I’ve been inspired to talk a lot about this medium. It’s moved me in a way that no other facet of photography has. It’s incredibly unique and the company that provides it, is just as much.
Following my meeting with Daniel and my conversations with TIP, I wrote a three page introduction about the company and its films; history, how to use it, special techniques and finally, closed it with a little bit of motivation to help spread the word.
Tuesday came along and I was fully prepared with everything that was needed. I had a handful of cameras to show & use, Impossible Project film, an emulsion/lift transfer kit with examples, cork boards filled with many of my favorites Impossible images and finally, the confidence needed to pull this off. This was my FIRST public speaking event. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I woke up very early that day and was hyping myself up all morning. I knew I had the knowledge to give them, but more importantly, I hoped that some of the inspiration I’ve gotten from using instant film would rub off on them.
When I got to Brookhaven, Daniel was all smiles and very excited for his students. I brought in my box of goodies, gave Daniel a poster from The Impossible Project and started organizing all of the material. Students eventually started to make their way into class, and I could tell many of them were enthralled with some of the images I brought. It made me happy and also was a little calming to see the excitement that was brewing.
Ten-thirty rolled around and I began the class. I started off talking about why I like instant film, how it’s completely different than using digital and the ways it can help improve your skill set. One of the main reasons I love instant film, is that it forces you to slow down. When every shot really counts and burning images, like one does with digital isn’t an option, you think about EVERYTHING (light, exposure, composition, the development temperature, etc.) You inherently become a better shooter because of this. Doing this day in and day out, with every image you take, increases your awareness of what is needed for a successful image and improves on your ability to take great images. Slowing down helps you to produce quality images a lot more frequently.
I had an hour for this portion of the class and I was going to meet back up with the photography club at 3 o’clock to show them how to perform emulsion transfers & lifts. At this point, I had talked and answered questions for about 20 minutes, shown them various cameras that I use, but I really wanted to get some cameras & film into the hands of these people. Sometimes seeing & feeling what it’s like to shoot instant film, is what it really takes to push people past the tipping point. I went over how to shield their images, how to shoot the camera and off they went! The energy was palpable!
Armed with a handful of Polaroid One Steps, some PX-680 CP and PX600 film, the students ran outside and started snapping away! Daniel and I raced around, trying to find the groups of budding photographers that were snapping off instant film as if it were going out of style. Integral film was blazing out of these cameras. It was a sight to see! Many of the other students around campus were looking and I’m sure wondering “Why did I not take a photography class? Polaroids?!? ” Strangers were walking up to Daniel asking him what was going on. It was greatness!
Enjoy some of the images they took …
– Students, if you would like credit for the images you took, please email me and describe which one/s are yours and I will add credit (first & last name) to your image –
Some of the images I took of the action …
Unfortunately, it was nearing the end of the hour and the students had to get to their next class. We found most of them and regrouped for a quick photo.
I asked the students if they would mind if I held onto to some of the photos to scan for a blog post. All of them wanted to keep them (of course) but I assured them that I would bring them back within a couple of days. We spread out an assortment of photos that were taken and took a quick snapshot ..
Later on in the afternoon, I taught their photography club how to do emulsion transfers & lifts. I had made a few examples at my house a few days earlier.
Once everyone had arrived, we arranged some trays in a sink and I started showing them how to perform a transfer. For most, if not all of them, this was the first time they had seen anything like this. I really enjoy seeing people’s expressions, when they see the emulsion become detached from the plastic cover of integral film. Most jaws are usually dropped once the emulsion starts to separate. It looks like an octopus underwater! I wave my arms around, with octopus-like motions, or what I think an octopus-like motion looks like ;-), when I describe the process.
After I had finished teaching the photography club, one of the students, Scott Mitchell, asked me if he could take my portrait for an article he was writing. He was going to pitch it to the school’s newspaper later on in the week. He wanted an image of me, with an assortment of Polaroids taken in their studio. I dragged the box of cameras in, arranged them on a prop table and he snapped this pic …
I had the most amazing time teaching these students. I wouldn’t have done this, if it hadn’t have been for my enormous love for instant photography. I want to infect people, like a virus, with the passion that I have for instant film.
A giant TEXAS-SIZED shout out to Impossible for providing such an incredible product. I can’t express enough, how incredibly happy each of them were during this whole process. Your film just makes people smile and brings joy into this world. Instant photography is so special. I haven’t met ONE person that doesn’t appreciate its value. THANK YOU for enabling me to give the gift of your product to these students. I have no doubt that I have impacted and inspired them. I am forever grateful …