Artist Spotlight: Charlene Hardy


Welcome back to this weeks Artist Spotlight. This week we have Charlene Hardy from Kennewick, Washington joining us. Charlene specializes in family and children portraits. ” I love kids and creating photos that offer people a tiny glimpse into a child’s complex personality”. Capturing a child’s personality should come easy for Charlene. She is a mom of 4 (3 girls and a little boy). ” I mainly use instant film to capture everyday moments in my wonderfully crazy life”.

You can find more of Charlene’s work at the following links.




How did you get into instant photography?

I was introduced to instant photography in 1997. I was in college and a Polaroid rep came to our school and demonstrated Polaroid Emulsion and Image Transfers. I became addicted to instant film that day. I started shooting instant film for everything. I had a Daylab, a view camera and lots of pinhole cameras made for Polaroid backs. My final portfolio was 8×10 Polaroid Transfers.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

I enjoy the Mamiya RZ because it lets me get in close to my kids. My kids have been around cameras enough that they don’t even notice anymore. I also love pulling it out for kids who has never seen instant photos before. The look of wonder on their faces is priceless.
Last year I got a great deal on a Polaroid 600SE camera. I like using the full frame of the instant film but I find myself choosing to give up the full frame in order to get closer to my subjects.

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

I would love to try out a folding Polaroid Land camera. I am drawn to these cameras because of their size. Carrying the RZ to the park or on a shoot is a major commitment. I would like to try out something lighter. I really haven’t researched models yet- I am on a camera-buying break for a year.  

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

I was in love with Fuji’s 100B pack film but I have moved on to Fuji’s 3000B film. I really love the contrast this film has and shooting 3000 always guarantees I will have a fast shutter speed, which is great when dealing with kids.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

I mainly shoot my children and our everyday life with instant film. When I am shooting clients with children, I use the instant film as an icebreaker with shy kids or if we need a break to refocus and bring the energy level down, I will pull out the “magic camera.”

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

I regularly use the instant photography at home with my family. I love capturing our everyday life- all of those imperfect moments that make my life “perfect.” For me, digital photography captures life a bit too perfectly and if it is not perfectly captured, I have the ability to “fix” things. I have plenty of pictures where my children are dressed nicely and have their hair combed but I want to remember the everyday life of messy hair, crumbs of faces, and the chaos of having four kids. I love that with instant film, what I capture is as close to reality as you can get. Children have the uncanny ability to be beautiful without even trying. I am thankful I have the ability to document kids being kids. Instant film is the perfect medium for my vision in documenting my children. 

Any personal projects we should know about?

My personal project, shown in part, here is titled, “Instant Classics.” I am trying to document my children growing and changing with an unaltered sense of reality. By documenting everyday life, I have discovered that every stage in life they enter has its challenges balanced by beautiful moments.

What other photographers do you look up to?

There are so many photographers well known and not so well known that have helped shape who I am today. My biggest influence was my Grandfather, Dick Hardy. He was a photojournalist in the 1950’s. I love looking through his photos, especially his photos of his family. He documented the lives of his children in such a beautiful and moving way. When I was young and showed an interest in photography, he helped and answered endless questions so I could build a darkroom in my basement.
My high school journalism teacher, Peter Karoly is also a photographer I greatly admired. When I was a struggling high school student, he guided me towards amazing opportunities in the photography field. His kindness, in the form of countless notes excusing me from classes so I could work in the school’s darkroom will never be forgotten.

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

Have fun! Relax- your results will never be perfect but that is what makes instant photography so much fun!

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

That’s a hard question! I spend a lot of time with my four kids. I am inspired by them, their insights on the world around them, how they explore and treat each new day as it is a big adventure. A lot of my personal work revolves around my kids and trying to capture how they are and their attitudes towards the world. They help me see the world through different eyes.


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