The FSC will be doing a monthly digest on instant photography, including a curated stream of photos made with any type of instant film. Links to submit and themes will be announced in the current digest. Next month will be curated by Abigail Crone and the theme is Expired Film. Please do not submit files larger than 20 MB and do make sure to title the files with your name, title of the shot (if one), and any camera or film information you can share. You may submit your photo here.
There are many reasons why I have a love of instant photography. I think it's so deeply ingrained in me because the very first photograph that I ever shot was taken with an SX70. It may be my earliest memory. I was a baby, one hand held between a much larger hand and the bottom of the camera, my tiny finger guided to the shutter button. I pressed it myself. And then came the so very iconic sound of that wonderfully designed camera ejecting a photograph.
And I watched as the image revealed itself to me. Magic.
I remember everything about that moment. Everything. That sound was my madeleine. But despite its significance, years passed before I turned to exploring instant photography in earnest. And unfortunately Polaroid went out of business not long after. But then came The Impossible Project. And perhaps because of the imperfections of their earliest formulations, imperfections that I found then and still find now to be part of the true magic of instant film - not knowing exactly what the result may be, learning how to work within and to exploit limitations - well, I fell hard and fast.
And I devoured. I bought cameras. I shot. I loved the good ones and I learned to play around with the others to see what I might be able to make from them. I began to work with emulsion lifts. I souped them. I peeled them. I even set fire to a few. Having also turned to packfilm along the way, I began to work with image transfers and negative bleaching. And even now I'm still learning. Recently I've been working on exploring layering, pulling them apart, changing them, putting them back together again. And I'm not the only one that's followed this sort of path.
Looking back now, I suppose what I love most is the imperfection inherent to most instant films, which in turn prompts experimentation and generally results in the fact that if you were to give three photographers the exact same instant tools to work with you'll likely end up with three very different but equally wonderful results. Which is why it's such a pleasure for me to be a small part of the instant photography world, and such a pleasure for me to be one among a small team that works on these monthly instant film features for the Film Shooters Collective. I get to see such wonderful work made by so very many amazingly talented photographers.
I'd like to thank all of those who submitted to this month's feature. I wish that I could share every image that was submitted. But I can't. I must choose. And for this month at least, while there is no winner, there is a prize (albeit a prize to be determined). And it goes to... Karin Claus, a photographer who somehow slipped past me until now, and who submitted so many wonderful images that I found myself very deeply and very happily surprised and inspired.
Keith Mendenhall is a photographer currently based in East Hampton, New York. A selection of his work can be seen on Instagram here.