Artist Spotlight: Anika Toro

 Anika_ProfileImageAltWe are back on the blog with another Artist Spotlight. If you are new to the blog, this is a weekly feature, where we spotlight photographers and artist that are inspiring others with there instant film work.

This week, the spotlight is on Tennessee artist, Anika Toro. We found Anika through our Instagram feed and we loved the art she is creating with instant film.  One look at her work and I think you will be inspired to create something instead of always looking for the right shot. She truly is making art, and not just taking pictures.  Her work is a great example of  the potential of the instant lab and whats possible on instax film as well. Please check out more of her work at the following links.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Flickr | Etsy



• A little about yourself. Where you are from and what you do.

Well, I’m originally from Northern California. But I have been in TN so long that it really does feel like home.  I make and sell photo based art when I can but my main focus for the last few years has been my daughter.  Most of my work is shot with a DSLR and a phone but recently I brought out my old Polaroid, Pinhole, and film cameras. I like mixing mediums, taking something new and making it look old, taking something old and making it new… I am a big fan of irony and humor.

How did you get into instant photography?

When I was 14 or 15 my mom bought me a Spectra AF.  I loved it.  I had filters to play with, the close-up lens, and some experimental lenses I made. It was so much fun!  I took it to art school and used it for every shoot I went on.  It was a perfect tool for storytelling and for helping me direct models where to go in the scene, plan lighting, and even printing.  Back then there wasn’t a screen on the back of my camera so I used instant images for a lot of the planning stages and story booking a shoot.  I was taking classes on alternative printing and happened into a class that was all about creating things using emulsion lifts and image transfers.  I was hooked! 

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

I like to use my sx-70 but my camera of choice right now is actually the Instant Lab.  I came back to instant photography by way of mobile imagery.  Actually, a lot of how I edit in-phone makes me feel like I did when I was experimenting with instant film.  I appreciate the control I have over what image is printed but think that it’s still fun to evoke some of the surprises that instant film and in-camera experimentation offer.  I’ve started playing with the camera more in terms of using it, rather than my mobile device, to create multiple exposures.  I am still learning and am very inspired by the Lab, it’s exciting.

What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?

I would really love to try a large format camera… an 8×10.  One day. 

What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?

So far I am liking the 600 Black and White.  I prefer their B&W films as I don’t think I have quite been able to master the exposure times yet for the Impossible Color films.  The Silver Shade film is also a favorite – It seems to make every image whisper a beautiful, fading story.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Well, it’s an expensive hobby so I don’t know if I really use it consistently.  If I go on location to shoot or if I visit some place new and know I will want to shoot a lot, I bring my Instax Mini. {Is that a cardinal sin in the Polaroid world??}  The AF and the lighting controls of the Mini are reminiscent of that Spectra I got so long ago.   Other than that, I think it’s a nice way to further experiment with mobile images.  For display purposes, there’s nothing like a Polaroid.

How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)

No, I don’t think so.  At least not any more.  My answer would probably be considerably different many years ago but since most of the instant photography I shoot now is taken alongside what I shoot with my DSLR or iPhone the subject matter is quite similar.  However, I do find that I will have a different idea of how to compose the image based on the camera I use.  I think I consciously try to search out particular kinds of light when shooting with the sx-70.  Each Polaroid camera seems to appreciate different lighting scenarios.  So, for me, one camera lends itself better to moody scenes while another seems more appropriate for a snapshot at a party…when I go into the woods I shoot with a different camera than when I go into the city. 

Any personal projects we should know about?

I run a mobile-only group called Me & You, 52. We just started incorporating the Instant Lab into the mix.  Each week members {and whoever wants to play along via Instagram} submit an image based on a predetermined word.  The images are then assembled into a diptych and displayed on our website (www.meandyou52).  It’s interesting to see how we all interpret the same exact inspiration in our own unique ways.  The addition of the Instant Lab has been inspiring!  I feel very lucky to be working alongside such talented artists…They are very skilled with their Polaroids. 

What other photographers do you look up too?

I LOVE the work of Markus Heinisch- I think everything he shoots is fabulous.  Anne Locquen’s work is quite beautiful, consistently so.  Akira F. {who I found via Flickr} also takes such lovely Polaroids.  Akira makes simple scenes look like memories I have just forgotten the details to.  Love that.

Lately I have been admiring the work of people experimenting and making collages – Maurizio Galimberti and Hockney of course but I also like what Andy Jenkins, Andrew Millar, and Chris Alter are doing.  I just discovered Lili Plasticienne who I quite like too.  I’m in a rediscovery phase.  There are so many talented people using instant film – a world of discovery and eye candy await!

What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?

Start.  Really the only way, at least for me, to learn or get inspired, by anything, is to just do it.  We all come from a place of not knowing, a beginning.  If you try something bit by bit and learn how the tools work that usually evokes a next stage of excitement and motivation.  It can be a never ending journey to enjoy!  That and get a second job.  Film is expensive.

Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?

You know, I really believe that inspiration can be found everywhere, in any moment, every moment.  I do sometimes seek it out but that could be just stopping for a moment to see and hear what’s going on around me.  It’s usually in those moments when the best light can be found.  That said, I also will think of a narrative and set it up, take a trip to be inspired by new sights, snap an image of something I want to remember forever. 


  1. […] we feature a mobile-only/instant film weekly project spearheaded by Anika Toro. Entering it’s seventh round, Me & You, 52 brings together the work of mobile and instant […]

Speak Your Mind