We are back on the blog with another Artist Spotlight. If you are new to the blog, this is a weekly feature, where we spotlight photographers and artist that are inspiring others with there instant film work.
This week, the spotlight is on Venice based photographer / artist, Katia Gabbiano. Katia is very active on twitter. Posting daily, Katia’s images take you away to foreign places some of only dream of going. You can see more from Katia at the following links.
I don’t like to talk about myself and always hope that my photos can do it better. In short words, I was born in Transylvania (Romania). I took up photography at the age of 15 and studied it with Francis Haar on courses for young talented photographers at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design. I have got master’s degree in Art History, participated in many masterclasses of many photographers such as Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Serge de Sazo, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Alfredo Camisa, Niccolo Bidau and others. I’ve worked as a freelance and professional photographer. About three and a half years ago I decided to quit digital photography and to work with film and instant only as a principal position against digital mass-shit-photography and to support film. I live, work and create in Venice and London.
How did you get into instant photography?
I fell in love with Polaroid at the age of 5 when I saw it for the first time. My family lived for some time in Rome while dad worked there. Once a man went into the courtyard, where we were playing. He took a picture and showed it to us. I was absolutely impressed and fell in love with this little square of magic. My parents said, that man was Andrey Tarkovsky.
What is your favourite camera used for instant photography?
I love all cameras, but I usually use SLR680 or SX70 Sonar Autofocus. If speaking about spectra I like to use Minolta. And from all my pack film cameras I usually use Polaroid 250. There is of course Polaroid 600SE but it’s entirely different. I have to say that I’m strong antagonist of instax film. I know that I can make good pictures with Fuji instax as with any film, but I do not like this material absolutely. So for me the only Instant Photography is Polaroid in all forms – integral and pack film. That includes The Impossible Project films (even if they’re trying to diverse themselves from Polaroid) and Fuji pack films (even if they’re so stupid to kill this film)
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I’d like to try old non-Polaroid cameras such as Kodak.
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
I’m in love with the PX100 First Flush, this milky-blue film is my favourite forever. Fade to Black is the other favourite, I love to see the process of developing and dying, it’s a true allegory of life and I never wanted to preserve pictures, they should live as they want. Impossible pack film was really great, especially Chocolate, I’m very sorry that they can’t (or don’t want) to start production of it again and I’m very sorry that they can’t produce even a small stock of their first pre-Colour Protection films, I understand their position about moving forward etc but I’d love to use these films again.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
It’s hard to say. I’m used to live with photography. For me, if there is a day when I haven’t made any picture that day doesn’t exist. Usually the choice of camera or film depends either on a project or on my mood. Sometimes I come to all my cameras and feel like some of them really want me to work with them, so I just take it and go to make photographs.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
Somehow most people think that instant photography is more about snapshots than 35mm or medium format. All the time, even when there was no digital photography at all, I tried to hold myself from making snapshots with Polaroid, often just to prove for myself that instant photography is for art and maybe even more for art than all other films. That became a habit so I never ever use instant for family celebrations, friends parties etc. I can be more relaxed with 35mm,
but with instant I’m always more concentrated and precise to what I’m intended to shoot. So I’d say that instant photography for me is always photography projects. I love old (and sometimes forgotten) shooting, developing and darkroom technics, love to experiment. I never use Photoshop (apart from cleaning from dust after scanning) and prefer to do everything by hand, mind and real camera. I have Instant Lab, because I love all analogue photography gears and devices and because I was really ready to support all Doc’s projects just to let this great man to make film and keep Polaroid alive. But I do not use Instant Lab in my projects because it’s too plain. Working, creating, inventing by hand and camera is the challenge for my mind and my skills, but Instant Lab doesn’t give me that level of excitement when I try to make something outside of my comfort zone.
Any personal projects we should know about?
It’s a bad sign to tell about new projects. I have some in my mind, but everything will be disclosed in its time. Anyhow, I’m still working on my emulsion lift projects, first is “Sogni Inquietanti della Città” (Disturbing Dreams of City) that began with views of Venice, but now it became a world wide project about very different places, and the other project is “Capriccio Veneziano” (Imaginary Venice). It seems that these are life-long projects that I’m happy to make.
What other photographers do you look up too?
I love works of Andrew Millar, a true genius of Polaroid! The most of all, I love that he doesn’t use neither photoshop nor any other digital way to make his stunning collages and multi-exposure shots, but does everything by hand. Everyone can use Instant Lab, iPhone or Photoshop, but only crazy people do it all without any digital help. I love his creative imagination! So many photographers were inspired by his works, and his ideas are still repeating in works of others. I
can’t name any other instant photographer nowadays who would be more influential on other photographers than Andrew, that’s amazing! I love manipulations by Toby Hancock. Self-portraits by Agafia Polynchuk. Collages by Ina Echternach. There are many works of Italian photographers that I love, for example works of Franco Mammana, Alan Marcheselli, Silvano Peroni and many others. In general, there are so many photographers and artists around definitely worth to see that the list would be very very long.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Leave making snapshots to celebrities who don’t have anything except their names, because unlike them you have talent to make art! Do not copy, you all are able to make your own art, you can do things even more interesting! You can’t be Cartier-Bresson (or whoever else), because you’re not Cartier-Bresson (or whoever else) but you still can be You Yourself. In photography school we’ve been tought that if you idolizing anyone from the past it makes you better, but if you idolizing anyone from present it makes you weak. There’s a simple way if you want to achieve something, but don’t know how: 1) analyse the original and find out how it was made 2) try to repeat it 3) create something yourself. Learn and study all the time! To tell you the truth, the importance of having people and naked tits in photos is exaggerated, so do not try to become portrait photographer just because you’ll get more likes or favs. Actually only time will show what photographs are more important, so learn and study all the time to grow skills and do not be a waster of film and place in the Universe.
Where does most of your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
I never wait for inspiration, my experience tells that it’s possible to wait forever and never do anything at all. Usually my inspiration come from art, poetry, classical music, and of course from my beloved Venice. I love to look at old photographs, from unknown views of nature and cabinet portraits to masterpieces of greatest photographers like Ansel Adams, Cartier-Bresson and others. If speaking about inspiration from photography I prefer to appeal to the time when some
were called photographers not just because they had camera – to the more true and honest time. Great classical movies by Tarkovsky, Fellini, Antonioni, etc. are also a great source of inspiration for me. And I have to admit that the Instant Lab and digital photography sometimes are a source even if not of an inspiration but at least of self confidence, because when I look at some pictures I smile and feel myself proud that I can do the same only with my camera.