Hello everyone. Today we have an interesting feature- all about instant photography. Polaroids are definitely making their comeback, and have been trendy for a while now. So it was perfect to talk to Kate who clicks instant photos with a creative expression and also, as a welcomed distraction from her busy student life. However, I think it’s more than a mere distraction- just check out her gorgeous instagram feed! I like the consistency and the varied subjects she takes shots of, and it’s always nice to see a good polaroid photo in your instagram feed, isn’t it? Read on to her what she has to say!
Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m Kate and I’m a 20 year old student from the UK. I’m in my last year at University studying Computer Science and Business – which is a million miles away from my love of instant photography.
What sparked your interest in photography in general? How long have you been practicing?
I’ve always appreciated photography. I remember going to the Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition when I was little and enjoying reading the information about how the pictures were taken. I admired the patience and skill required to capture such a perfect shots. However, my interest in photography was amplified in June when my boyfriend Ben gave me an Instax camera for my birthday. I’d never specifically said I wanted one but he clearly thought I’d enjoy it and he was right. However, I think he is still pretty surprised at how big an obsession it has become for me!
I love how you capture moments exclusively with your polaroid camera! What interests you about polaroid photos?
I haven’t been practicing photography for very long at all, since I only got the camera in June. My camera – an Instax mini 90 neo classic has a lot more settings than a traditional polaroid camera. For example, you can adjust the light levels and take long and double exposure shots so there is lots of play with. It’s difficult to ‘practice’ instant photography on a student budget because the film is so expensive (75p/shot) so it’s frustrating when things go wrong. However, I do still experiment and I always keep the failed shots (which you wouldn’t if they were digital pictures!), although they don’t often make it to Instagram!
How do you interpret the presence and significance of photography in your lifestyle?
Until recently, photography wasn’t a very significant part of my life but now I’m also now constantly thinking of new things I can try. I get annoyed if I see something I really want to photograph and I don’t have my instax with me!
What keeps you motivated creatively in life?
Before University I had a pretty continuous creative outlet – I spent at least 10 hours a week practicing and performing music. I’m now a final year student on a science degree, and I no longer have time for music in the same way. Although, I didn’t realize it properly until I unboxed my camera- I think I was craving some creativity after 3 years of technology and business.
I think being given an instax camera reminded me that underneath the academic theory and coding, I’m actually quite a creative person and it’s nice to be reminded of that!
Can you share a glimpse of a typical day in your life?
Well, I’m a student, so the majority of my day is taken up by attending lectures, waiting for buses and procrastinating – that’s where photography and ‘pix_of_polaroids’ comes in.
I got my camera and started my Instagram account during the summer holidays when there was a lot more time and opportunities to take photos, but I’m still managing to take some shots on the way back from lectures and on the weekends.
What’s your outfit staple, favourite food, fave flower and country and why?
I’m notoriously scruffy so probably not the right person to ask about my outfit staple! I do have a vast collection of scarfs though, so maybe that is my outfit staple.
My favourite food has to be ice cream – I recently started making homemade ice cream. It’s really fun and easier than you’d think. I like experimenting and trying to recreate my favourite Ben & Jerry flavours (I have the recipe book!). Some of the flavours I’ve made so far include Oreo, honeycomb, salted caramel and strawberry.
I think daffodils are one of my favourite flowers because I love the springtime and they remind me of Easter egg hunts in the garden when I was little.
What kind of photography themes and subjects are you interested in nowadays?
Initially, when I got the camera I was just enjoying taking pictures of my friends and family. I hadn’t been thinking about it in a particularly creative way – until I took a photo of a pier stretching into the sea on a beautiful sunny day. I started to experiment, seeing if I could line the instant photo up with the rest of the pier. It was fiddly to achieve because of the differences in scale, reflection, focus and of course, all the strange looks you get from passers-by. I was happy with the result though. When I got home, I started looking at shots other people had taken on Instagram and that inspired me to continue.
I like trying to seamlessly blend the retro instant picture into its digital surroundings. I try to identify things that I can line up, for example, the horizon or a building. The most effective shots are a result of perfectly lining the instant photo up with the background but this is difficult to achieve! I also try to make the background as interesting as the instant photo – I want to bring 2 interesting photos together to make an even better one.
I wouldn’t say I’m interested in a specific theme or subject, but I do look at things differently now – I’m constantly spotting potentially interesting shots to try out. I’d like to get into portrait photography – maybe an instant Humans of New York style series. If only I put this much effort into my Uni work!
What are your hobbies? (Apart from clicking polaroid shots!)
I play the flute and sing although not as much as I’d like to anymore. Lots of my best friends are musicians and some of my happiest memories are music related – singing in the middle of a square in Belgium flash mob style, singing Postman Pat in 4 part harmony and getting my grade 8 flute after years of work. As I’ve already mentioned I also enjoy cooking and recently started making ice cream.
Instant photography vs. well, not instant! Pros and cons? Anything you’d like to elaborate on which one (or both) you would choose?
Our lives our very reliant on digital technology. I’m a Computer Science student so I know this all too well. In a world full of Photoshop software and Google images there is something really refreshing and exciting about taking a unique, one-off picture and watching it develop in front of you.
There is nothing to hide behind- you can’t just delete it and take another without wasting film. Shooting film is a completely different experience to using a digital camera. When I’m taking digital pictures, I’ll take 10 to make sure I get one I like. Whereas, when I’m taking instant pictures, I’ll think really carefully about what I want to achieve first.
My computer is full of thousands of pictures of great memories and moments- but the pictures I cherish the most are my instant shots. I love the instant photos I have of my friends and family – they seem more real because it truly is a second in time rather than one of 15 shots we took to get just the right one…
Are you planning to pursue photography professionally or is it just a hobby you love?
At the moment, it’s definitely just a new hobby that I’m loving which has grown quicker than I expected. I’m very much at the start and I have a lot to learn about photography.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
That’s a scary question for any final year University student! I will graduate in 2016 and plan on taking a year out before starting my graduate job in Technology. So, in one year I hope to be travelling more and taking lots of pictures but in a few years– who knows…if I’m happy, have the people I love around me and have a job I enjoy, then it’s all good!
You have a quite a few landscape nature shots in different places. A bit more on your travel experience so far?
This summer we went travelling around Croatia for several weeks as you can guess from my Instagram series #pixofcroatia. The landscape was beautiful and it was the perfect first big adventure with my new camera. I also went travelling round Europe (9 countries in 4 weeks) the previous summer, but sadly that was before I got my instax so all my pictures are very digital and mainstream! The coolest place I’ve ever been to is probably Moscow. I went to Russia on an orchestra tour a few years ago and it was amazing- I definitely need to go back with my instax – the architecture is incredible.
I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the UK where there is lots of natural beauty to photograph- such as beaches and moorland. It is getting a little more difficult to find things to shoot now that the weather is pretty rubbish all the time- although, I think it is encouraging me to be more creative. Notes: )
What are some qualities you think makes a great photograph?
I like photography that makes you think about something differently- or see something from a different perspective. I also really like pictures with great symmetry or interesting techniques. For example, after my recent experiment with sparklers and long exposures I’ve found some amazing long exposure photography on Instagram.
Do you think a photographer’s subject he/chooses somehow correlates indirectly to their own attitude and choices in life? Is that true for you too?
I’m not sure what my account says about me! People who know me, but don’t know about my photography, might be surprised by my pictures. To me, my account reflects a choice to start making time for creativity and fun, rather than everything being about my degree. I hope it also reflects a choice to explore and look at things differently.
I’ve always valued memories and experiences far more than things and I take pictures to remember moments. I think this is particularly true of instant photography.
Any nice memory that brings a smile to your face?
On Christmas Eve, every year my family gathers around the fire and listens to the original snowman audiobook on tape (even more retro than instant photography!). We’ve done it my whole life. I know every word and sound effect but Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.
What do you think is the future of photography today and in the future?
I think photography is becoming more and more about ideas and concepts because high quality equipment is becoming more affordable. I also think it’s clear that instant photography is making a comeback from all the great new models of camera being released. A physical photo is a real novelty to us now. In an age where CDs are being replaced by iTunes and books are being replaced by Kindles, there is something satisfying about swapping out a digital camera for an analogue one!
Thanks for sharing, Kate! Find Kate on her instagram here.