Artist Spotlight: Elissa Killian

We are back on the blog with another Artist Spotlight. If you are new to the blog, this is a  feature, where we spotlight photographers and artist that are inspiring others with there instant film work.  If you would like to be a featured artist or know of someone you would like to see on the blog, drop us a line. We love putting people in the spotlight!

Elissa by Rodney Brown

This week, the spotlight is on Portland photographer, Elissa Killian. Elissa is another Instagram find. Her feed is a beautiful, color filled, instant journal of her friends, clients and adventures. Please be sure to check out her social media outlets and show her some love.

Website | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram


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

My name is Elissa Killian and I was born in Portland Oregon. I have lived here most of my life, aside from a four year stint in Fremont California. I’m a photographer by profession and teach dance/fitness classes on the side. Since I’ve started shooting instant film, I’ve decided that clothing and food simply are not necessary anymore and spend just about all my money on film packs (but not really). Totally worth it.

How did you get into instant photography?

I’m a complete and total newb when it comes to instant photography. About five months ago, my good friend and brilliant photographer, Rodney Brown gave me his extra SX70. I’d been shooting with my little 35mm Konica and medium format Diana for years, and he talked me into trying something new. I’m so glad he did.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

I haven’t had the opportunity to try out many models, but I’m in love with my SX70. It’s practically an appendage.

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

Oh goodness there are a few for sure- I’d love to try out a MiNT 670m. I’m also waiting on my new Lomo’instant to arrive in the mail. Absolutely giddy about that.

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

PX70, I just love the potential vibrancy it can render. Or even the lack there of. I’ve gotten to try out some Time-Zero which is incredible, sad it’s out of production. It’s so full of feeling.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Polaroid has pretty much become a part of my day to day. I always have my camera with me so when the light is undeniable, or the something is making me feel some feels, a mini session happens. As I mentioned earlier, photography is mainly how I support myself. I shoot a lot of weddings/ couples and find myself breaking out the Polaroid and making my couples pose for me while on a shoot. I mostly shoot digital on the job, but my SX70 is never far. There’s always room and always time for a Polaroid, even when there isn’t. Digital photography can become stale for me if I let it; my heart is in analog and instant photography. So bringing instants into commissioned work keeps things interesting.

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

I feel like this is premature for me to say as I feel my voice and vision are still developing. Having my SX70 in my hand does draw a specific type of inspiration and demeanor from me, but I don’t really do anything different. There is so much beauty to be found in everything if you choose to see it. Real, raw, unobstructed beauty, beauty in degradation or in the obvious, however it decides to make itself manifest is where my vision is growing. So I guess the reason behind my expression is the same, the delivery in which it’s conveyed potentially marks it as different. If that makes any sense. So I don’t know that it’s about an aesthetic as much as it’s about a feeling. It all comes from somewhere real.

Any personal projects we should know about?

I’m terrible at focusing on any one endeavor at a time, so actually finishing things can take time. My excitement for projects seem to change with the seasons. I have a couple things in the works, so keep an eye out 😉

What other photographers do you look up too?

So many. Rodney Brown (rodinrealife for those of you not following him yet), Brandon Long (onlymagicleftisart), Devin Blaskovich (devinblaskovich), Susan Burnstine,  Ryan Muirhead, Benj Haisch, James Escobar justmejames), love Justin Molina’s work (coneyallen), just to name a few.

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

Stick with it. Take lots of bad pictures and ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to try even if you feel ridiculous. Embrace the unpredictability, own it.

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

I feel that these things can be one in the same. If you leave yourself open to inspiration, it will find you. People inspire me. I’m a watcher, and everyone has a special *something* that makes them shine, or sullen, or angry, or infinite and invincible. I love pointing my camera at that *something* in whatever moment we are present in. I don’t take many landscape or ambient photos, my subjects are typically people. People breathe life and beauty into things where it may seem to be lacking. Sometimes seemingly unrelated things grab hold of me. Like music, for instance. Music can have such a big impact on one’s mind set and attitude. It’s like how they say if you’re grumpy, smile for 30 seconds and you’ll feel brighter. Music can have the same affect and so much inspiration can stem from that if you let it change you. Connecting senses- feeling, sound and aesthetics can bring inspiration full circle and complete a photograph. Also, a good lighting situation, that will get me unreasonably excited every time.

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