The number of cameras in my possession is growing so out of control, it’s like they were making babies on their own when I wasn’t watching.
OK, fine. I will own up to my problem — I mean passion(!) — of wanting to play with pretty much all devices with photographic capabilities.
Pinhole cameras made out of only cardboards? Sure, I’ll build one! It doesn’t matter even if it’s not perfect right off the bat — the process is just as fun as the result. What now? Smartphones that can take 3D photos / movies? Hey, I’m long overdue for an upgrade anyway. Oooh, a new model of mirrorless camera? What do you mean I already get to work with various DSLRs day in and day out? Just shut up and take my money! (Please. Thank you.)
Yet another conception
Don’t ask how it happened. Suffice to say we are welcoming a new member to the family with open arms — the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 instant camera!
With street portraits being one of my active hobbies, I immediately knew what my first project with this new gem was going to be. I set out to photograph couples celebrating Valentine’s Day in the streets of London.
What is an Instant Film Camera?
In an era where “antiques” like cassette tapes and floppy disks belong in museums, it’s completely understandable when some of us don’t know what an instant camera is.
Before we move on to my project, let’s take a moment to look at these examples I came across online, which I found absolutely adorable:
Maybe it’s just me, but somehow there is something cute and endearing about this technical innocence.
My first instant moment
So how did I get to play with my first instant camera anyway? Nerd alert here.
I used to spend a small portion of my weekends frequenting antique shops as well as — yep — my local Goodwill, of whichever city / state I was living in at the time. I would “rescue” old film cameras, and would try to find the most economical ways to get them repaired. Not only that — if they did get fixed, I would then jump through hoops just to find the right types of film that would work with them. Not to mention the challenge of getting the film developed / cross processed / printed. If you are not sure what an instant film camera is, chances are, you probably don’t have a single clue as to what I just talked about either.
You haven’t lost me completely though. It’s still the 21st century that we are looking at here.
What a total dork, I know.
First couple — no, not *the* First Couple
Fast forward to three days ago — the first Valentine’s Sunday we’d experienced in a while. Or as I would like to call it, Fieldwork Day.
To many people, asking for permission to photograph strangers on the street would probably be quite an intimidating concept. Yet luckily for me, it’s something I’m getting more and more natural at by the day.
What was a little outside of my comfort zone at first, however, was maneuvering the Fuji instant camera. As a photographer, I am usually shooting full manual on my digital buddies. Therefore the idea of not having much control over focus and lighting made me a bit reluctant to press the shutter — especially since I knew there’s a measurable cost associated with each film that popped out instantaneously.
But! To my delight, the results turned out to be amazing! Including even the first shot of the day — which I will NOT be showing here for now. ;)
What I can show you though, is this:
When I decided on this particular photo project, I also came up with a sub-idea in mind: If we are able to have a physical photo in our hands instantly. Why stop there?
So I proceeded to have some extra fun with some of my models, by doing this next:
See it? It’s an instant photo of people holding an instant photo of themselves, taken just the minute before.
One more level?
Once again, why stop there, right?
Thus commenced the 3rd layer of “Inception.”
[A photo of people holding [a photo of themselves holding [a photo of themselves ] ] ]
We did end up deciding that it’s a good level at which to stop, since the visibility was getting quite low by then:
More stunning photos
Up next is a few more from the rest of the day:
Danger is not my middle name
During that last photo shoot above, it was unfortunately when we almost got into trouble with a Southbank Centre security officer…
I was originally determined to call it a day right after that shoot anyway, and so I just complied with the order to stop.
That’s a wrap, folks! Or… was it really? ;)
I have gone ahead and put several additional photos into a (physical) time capsule, which won’t be opened until sometime in the future.
It was certainly an instaxing Valentine’s Day. ∎
What are your thoughts on this project? Please feel free to share.
Next stop: London Fashion Week!