Welcome back to another Artist Spotlight. This week we bring you Michael Smith from Ash Imagery. Michael is a Lifestyle and Wedding photographer located in Philadelphia, PA. Selected as one of Rangefinder Magazines 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography, his work has been featured on several major blogs and in multiple print publications. He always finds a way to incorporate instant film into his shoots and has developed an amazing style with the medium. Please check out more of his work at the following links.
(1) How did you get into instant photography?
I found instant photography with the first film camera I started messing around with a few years ago – the Mamiya RZ67. I got it with a polaroid back and started experimenting with the Fuji pack films. I fell in love pretty quickly.
(2) What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
(3) What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
Polaroid 180 or 195
(4) What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
My favorite Impossible film is the PX680 Color Protection. My favorite pack film is the Fuji 100c.
(5) How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
Lately I’ve been using it at every boudoir and portrait session. This year I will be shooting at least 1 pack per wedding and the clients are getting the originals back after scanning.
(6) How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
I try to approach instant photography similar to my wedding photography (which is my core business) and I believe my work is unique in that realm of photography. I shoot pretty quickly and wait for moments to happen. Anticipation is key. I’ll hold up the camera for a few seconds before I actually hit the shutter button. While there is sometimes a slower pace when using instant film, there are times when I fire off a couple shots within seconds to capture a moment or emotion. I tend to shoot closer to the subject using instant film because with the SX70, I can get closer due to the focal range. I often find myself a foot or so away from models or whoever I’m working with.
(7) Any personal projects we should know about?
I don’t have any specific projects in mind but this year, 2013, I will be shooting a lot more instant film than in the past. I am now completely happy with the new versions of Impossible film. In the past I used them sparingly but now I am not as concerned with the stability of the image.
(8) What other photographers do you look up too?
I honestly view all photographers on the same wavelength. I don’t “look up” to any one. I firmly believe we are all just people doing something they love. The difference being our vision is unique in each of us. That being said, I do enjoy looking at other people’s work. Paolo Reversi did some wicked stuff with Polaroids and still does to this day. Cartier-Bresson was just simply amazing and I find myself in awe of his compositions. Most important, I have a ton of colleagues – and friends – that continue to inspire me every day. Without them I may not be pushing myself as far as I should.
(9) What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Experiment. You won’t know what works until you try.
(10) Where does most of your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
My inspiration comes from my daily life – anything really. I rarely find myself seeking it out in any way. I don’t go and sit down with a magazine with the intent to be inspired. It usually hits me while I’m driving, eating, or reading. Mostly times where my mind is free to wander and I’m not focused on one thing in particular. I’ve been loving Tumblr lately as well. I follow a bunch of blogs that post some amazing and eclectic images that resonate with me and stir up creativity in my head.