Artist Spotlight: Jesse Freidin

freidin.headshotAgain after an amazing Roidweek are so happy to once again bring you another Artist Spotlight. We have once had Jesse Freidin on the blog with his Instant Doggie Photobooth. Yes, that one that made you go, ‘Awe what cutie! I want that dog!” We invited to him to tell us a little more about him and his work. He has definitely helped keep instant film alive with the masses of the Bay Area and for that we are grateful! Be sure to check out his links below.

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

I’m an East Coaster at heart, living in sunny California with a bunch of cameras and a dog. I just opened my second studio here in Los Angeles, while keeping my first studio in San Francisco going strong. My photography investigates the human/animal bond, centered mostly on dogs, through private commissions, exhibitions, and editorial work. I am completely fascinated with the intimacy and power that exists between a human and their dog, and love helping my clients celebrate the unique relationship they share with their animal companions. It is emotional and creative work, and I am truly lucky to be able to wake up every day and do what I love best with passion and integrity. All my work is done with medium and large format film. I don’t own a digital camera. I make sure my photographs are printed and matted and framed by hand, and are fully archival. Celebrating a unique emotional connection is a large part of my studio’s work, but integral to that is producing a fine art print that is handled with extreme care and attention. Nothing leaves my studio imperfect- prints are matted in hand-cut matts, signed, and guaranteed for life. Analog and instant photography is a real way of life for me.

How did you get into instant photography?

I was introduced to instant photography at a very young age, sneaking out into the back yard as a small child with my parents’ old Polaroid camera to photograph my friends. I was hooked on the magic of the integral image even then, and reignited my fascination with instant photography my first year in college when I bought my first Polaroid Land Camera. I taught myself how to see, how to frame, and how to be united with an image from start to finish while collecting and shooting any and all Polaroid cameras I could find. That obsession really never stopped for me.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

My favorite camera for instant photography is the Polaroid Super Shooter- a plastic hard-body Land Camera that is incredibly simple yet consistent, and very sturdy.

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

I’ve never used the new Fuji instant cameras (the Instax??), but have seen some images. They look nice, saturated, crisp. It seems like a good alternative for the Polaroid 600s.

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

I love Impossible film, and have been shooting with it for a while. Though they’ve come out with a bunch of new and amazing films in the past year that are much more consistent and sharp and easier to use, I still love the older PZ100 films- the black/white for the Spectra cameras. It is a little muddy and a little warm- but the tones remind me so much of the warm toned fiber papers I use in the darkroom. There is a real magical quality to the PZ100- it is a challenge to use, but when you’ve dialed in your process, know how to handle the film, and what the best light is- you really are rewarded with something very special.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

I incorporate instant film into my work flow in a few ways. I always like to have a ‘side project’ happening alongside my client work to keep me on my toes. A lot of these projects are creative series that I do with instant film- I’ve been working on an ‘Impossible Dogs’ series – dog portraits from around San Francisco all shot on Impossible film; “The Doggie Gaga Project” was all shot on Polaroid T669, etc. I also run an ‘Instant Doggie Photobooth’ which I set up at various events. I load my Fuji Fotorama with Fuji FP100c and people purchase original portraits of their dog, which I sign and put into a vintage folio. That’s a real fun (and exhausting) project.

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

That’s a great question. I think my ‘instant voice’ is very synonymous with the voice I use for all my other work. It’s not really a conscious choice. What makes sense to me in my head when I’m composing, or when I’m inspired by something, or how I meter my image or where I place my light etc is just what feels right to me. I see the same voice threaded through my client work, personal series, work with film, with instant, large format, etc. I like consistency that tells a story.

Any personal projects we should know about?

I have a solo exhibit opening tomorrow (June 5th 2013) at The National Sporting Library and Museum in Virginia, entitled “American Sporting Heritage.” This is the debut of this series, which celebrates the intimate connection between contemporary hunters, their gun dogs, and their desire to bond deeply with nature. More info here: This is a project I’ve been developing for the past few years, and will continue building in 2014/2015.

What other photographers do you look up too?

I look up to Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, Rineke Dijkstra, William Wegman.

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

To anyone just getting into instant photography, my advice is: forget everything you’ve ever learned on your digital camera or camera phone or point and shoot. You must reacquaint yourself with a whole new set of tools, and not be afraid to make a large amount of mistakes. Expecting something before you really understand how to create it will just cause you a lot of frustration. Experience the joy of not knowing!

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

I’d say most of my inspiration comes from observing relationships.




  1. You are amazing!!!! Thanks for being an inspiration in my life, Bless you Jesse.

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