Artist Spotlight: Henry Gaudier-Greene

photo by Tanya Dakin

photo by Tanya Dakin

It’s Thursday! If you are new to the blog, this means it’s Artist Spotlight time. This is our weekly feature where we feature Amazing people doing Amazing things with instant film. This week, the spotlight is on Philadelphia photographer Henry Gaudier-Greene.

I was lead to Henry by Dr J Caldwell when I was on my search for some expired Chocolate film. Sad to say, Henry had shot his supply but the good news is I was introduced to his work.

If you would like a deeper look into his body of work, please use the following links.

*some work is of a mature nature and may be NSFW

Tumblr | Instagram

 

How did you get into instant photography?

My sister owned a Polaroid 600 when I was younger.  Occasionally, I would take photos with it, but I didn’t start experimenting seriously with instant photography until about two or three years ago.   Part of my attraction to it is that it offers a way out of the anxiety I always feel about shooting.  Since I don’t shoot digitally, I never know if I have the image I want until I process my film, after which it is too late to make adjustments. I am constantly convinced that I have under- or overexposed an image or that I have framed it badly. Instant photography alleviates a lot of the apprehension I feel, which is largely and perhaps irrationally the sense of duty that I believe I owe to whomever I am shooting with.  Beyond the purely psychological dimension, I simply love the look of instant film, particularly pack film.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

Polaroid 600SE. It isn’t particularly easy to carry around, but the Mamiya lens is incredible. The problem I have with most other instant cameras is that I cannot control them fully.  I wish that I had the necessary adaptor for the 600SE so I could shoot 120 film at 6×7 or 6×9, but they are prohibitively expensive.  If I am not shooting with the 600SE, I most often use a Polaroid 680. 

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

 I would like to shoot 8×10.

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

I have not shot any Impossible film for at least a year.  I appreciate their efforts to preserve integral film, but I am still working my way through the last of my original Polaroid stock. When I run out, I’ll experiment with their film a bit more. In terms of pack film, I shoot almost exclusively with Fuji 3000B.  I love Polaroid 669, but it is becoming more and more difficult to find packs that actually work. The same is true of 100 Chocolate. 

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

I never shoot the same way and very rarely with the same combination of cameras.   Some days, I shoot only instant film.  At other times, I might only shoot three of four instant images and the rest of my work in medium format or 35mm.  There is really very little rhyme or reason to how I shoot.  I am totally capricious about what cameras and films I bring with me.  There is also a slightly mercenary aspect to my shooting instant photos. Photography isn’t a profession for me, so I try to make it pay for itself as much as possible. (It never does.)  People, in my experience, are much more willing to purchase instant photos, at least from me, than prints. I understand the attraction, since there always appears to be something more immediate about owning a Polaroid than a print, something more intimate as well.  

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

I am not convinced that there is a consistent voice in my photos. I tend to be odds with myself a lot of the time. A kinder formulation of this would be to say that I have different moods, some of which contradict one another.  If anything, my work tends to be pretty minimal.  I try to be as uncomplicated as possible when I shoot.  My goal, if I ever have one, is to capture something essential about the space between myself and the subject. Instant photos allow me to do this.  I think they probably also play nicely into my tendency to shoot things that are vintage in feel and nature. 

Any personal projects we should know about?

I’ve been working for about a year on a long project with my good friend Tanya Dakin.  I would call it stylized environmental portraiture.  We have perhaps one or two more shoots to do for it, after which, we hope to release it in full.  Most of it has been shot on instant film. 

What other photographers do you look up too?

Weegee, Gary Winogrand, Helmut Newton, William Eggleston, and a lot of others. 

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

I don’t draw a distinction between shooting instant and conventional film—and only a slight distinction between film and digital work.  My advice would therefore be the same for anyone getting into photography in general: shoot a lot, shoot purposefully, and study your photos carefully to see what works in them and what doesn’t.  

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

I rarely know what I am going to shoot. My inspiration comes mostly from the cameras themselves, from my desire to use one or the other of them, and from a compulsive need I feel on some days to make photos.  Other images and works of art play a role in the way I think about photography. It is hard to avoid a degree of leakage into my own work.  But, in the occasion itself, I am interested in what I can make out of the little that I have around me.  I usually work in very restricted ways, so the inspiration comes from turning something insignificant (a wall or a small prop) into something interesting.

Comments

  1. the type 669 with clara is KILLER!

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