Welcome back to another Artist Spotlight. This week we have Azuree Wiitala from Chicago, IL joining us. We came across Azuree on Filckr and fell in love with her wedding work and the dreamy feel of her Polaroids. Here are some places you can find her on the web.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where you’re from and what you do.
Hello! My name is Azuree Wiitala. I live in Chicago with my husband Christopher and our two bunnies, Franny & Seymour. I love to travel, listen to music, clean (you read that correctly), collect cameras, go to museums, and go on photo adventures! I work at a camera store in Chicago as well as take photos of people on their wedding day.
How did you get into instant photography?
Like most of us who grew up in the 80’s & 90’s I was enchanted by the magic of a the Polaroid. You could watch an image appear before your eyes, I mean really- that’s magic. I’ve always shot instant here and there but it wasn’t until I found an SX70 at a thrift store for $12 that I dug a little deeper. It took me a while to figure out what the folded machine was but once I did, I was absolutely taken by it. I shot Polaroid more once I had my SX70 but it wasn’t until I moved to Chicago from Florida and was trying to sort out what direction my photography was going in that I decided to focus on taking photos with instant film. Christopher helped me realize that I should figure out which camera / film medium I like the most and just really focus on that one. I still love shooting film and developing my own negatives but instant just meshes well with my personality and I love the format so.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
My Sonar SX70 & My husbands Polaroid 680, which I’ve pretty much stolen from him at this point.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I really, really want a passport camera! The kind that lets you take four different images on one shot!
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
Whoa. That’s a really tough question. I honestly love all of The Impossible Project’s films. Each edition has it’s own aesthetic that I really appreciate. I’m a huge sucker for all of their special edition films. That double whammy element of surprise in both, what your image will look like and what frame you’ll get really gets me! The Gold and Black Frame editions are favorites.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
Oh I shoot instant film whenever possible. Every trip I go on. On almost every photowalk. I shoot instant when I have the choice. I am trying to exclusively shoot instant photos at weddings, as an additional supplemental photographer to the main photographer!
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
All of my photography is slice of life. Just the world as I see it, through various cameras on different kinds of film. There is so much beauty, wonder, irony, love and emotion around us. I like to try to portray my life and the things around me as I see them and immortalize things/moments that stand out to me on film. Catch those fleeting moments before they are gone!
Any personal projects we should know about?
I’ve just started brainstorming my first conceptual series of photographs. I think it’s an interesting challenge to tell a story through pictures, where I am arranging everything. Like I said earlier, most of what I shoot is life as it is, so this will be a new challenge that I’m excited about.
I also hope to release a series of portraits I took last year in some fashion, whether it be a book or a dedicated website.
What other photographers do you look up too?
Oh gosh, that list is huge. I love the work of Amanda Mason, Robert Frank, Emilie Le Fellic, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jeff Bridges, Mikael Kennedy, William Eggleston, Vivian Maier, Adam Goldberg, & Jen Gotch…just to name a few!
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Don’t give up! It can seem overwhelming at first, but practice truly makes perfect. Keep notes! Take notice of the results you get in different lighting conditions and temperatures, on different films. They all have their own personality! Most importantly, keep shooting!
Where does most of your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait until it finds you?
That’s a hard question to answer. Sometimes I just decide that I’m going to go on a walk with my camera and take pictures. Other times I see things as a picture and if I’m lucky have one of my cameras with me. I don’t think of myself as a photographic visionary or anything, my favorite photos to take are just pretty, oddly juxtaposed, or interesting things or people. I am trying to focus more on portraiture and less on things and places at the moment.