Artist Spotlight: elegia

img021A few weeks ago we put a call out on Twitter looking for some fresh faces to feature in 2014 for our Artist Spotlight post. Shortly after, I received an email with a link to this week’s featured artists website. elegia, currently living in Manchester, is a model turned photographer. Starting out with self portraits and expanding from there, Dee shots a mix of Digital, roll film and of course, instant film.

“I adore Bob Dylan, David Hockney, the nineties and anything tacky, naff or rundown. I’m a cat-lady and militant tea fiend. Oh and I love cake! Photography isn’t my hobby, it’s what I want to do with my life.” – elegia

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How did you get into instant photography?

A photographer I worked with as a model brought some original Polaroid 600 film on a shoot. It was the first time that I’d ever seen a Polaroid camera and the first time I had shots of me taken on one. After that I got my own Polaroid camera as a Christmas present and I’ve been shooting ever since. That was two years ago and I’m hooked!

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

I love my Image System as it’s quite good for DOF and in the right conditions, light leaks. I was in love with my Spectra until it broke! I haven’t used my Land cameras as much as I should have because I travelled a lot last year, and tried to limit what I took. This year I will be using more SX-70 film for definite. My Supercolor was the first Polaroid camera that I owned, and it’s so dependable. I’ll always have a soft spot for him.

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

I want to go big this year. So the big heavy Mamiyas and Crown Graphics are what I’m aiming for. I’m dying to shoot some instant film on one of those!

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

I’m a fan of the expired Silver Shade type, although it’s hard to source. My favourite images were taken on that and the Cool Color Shade film. My work relies on damage and serendipity, and I found out very quickly that working with those film types suited the look that I was going for. I don’t really like the digital perception of the world that is sharper than even the human eye can see. Film is what I see when I look at the world.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Oh I have to shoot Polaroid every time I shoot! I’m always really happy if the Polaroids work, even if I’ve shot a few rolls of film at the same time. Nailing the Polaroids is always my main aim on a shoot.

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

I wrote a blog about why I use film/Polaroid on my site. The short version being that it’s all about serendipity for me, I love working with a medium that increases the chances of that. Hence why I use a lot of expired film and why I develop at home. I made a mistake once in the darkroom and printed using two pieces of paper instead of one. I put the extra piece of paper back into the light-tight box and later reused it – again by accident. It left a smudged faint print of the previous one under the new print I had made and I liked it so much that I kept that as the final print; instead of making a fresh one.

I like being able to make those kind of decisions. To shoot into sunlight or to press on the shot straight after it has been ejected from the camera. Polaroid is already so unique but I like adding more touches of that ‘one of a kind’ element to it by damaging the film.

Any personal projects we should know about?

Ah, I have so many! I started photography with self-portraits so I guess I’m going back to that original intention and putting more of myself back into my work. I feel like there’s so much that I need to do, and so little time left to do it.

What other photographers do you look up too?

Being an analogue photographer most of the people I admire currently work with that medium. People like J. Caldwell and Kesler Tran. Then your staple big names like Guy Bourdin, Sally Mann and Francesca Woodman. I guess I look up to people whose intentions are true.

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

Have fun! And remember that you’re using a medium that’s unique and capable of so much if you understand it and use it creatively.

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

I’m inspired by my surroundings mostly. My inspirations change constantly and come from music, film… everything really. I get inspired just walking to the supermarket, my mind is always whirring with ideas.

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