Artist Spotlight: Kevin Lajoie

It’s Monday, that means it’s time for 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. We try to provide our readers with a new spotlight each week, so if you would like to be featured or know of someone you would like to see on the blog, drop us a line.  We love putting people in the spotlight!

Self Portrait

This week our spotlight is on New Orleans photographer and art merchant Kevin Lajoie. Kevin actually emailed us about featuring a project he has been working on for a couple years. Consider this spotlight as a preview to this project, which we will be featuring in the near future. Please be sure to check out Kevin’s social media sites and show hime some love.

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

I was born in Connecticut but have relocated to New Orleans indefinitely, as I have no desire to leave and want to contribute and live in this city for as long as possible. I work at a jazz venue and art market in the French Quarter, where in my free time I take photographs. I’ve been working on this project for the past two years called The Doodle Project, wherein I take Polaroid portraits of people, glue them into a sketchbook and have them doodle something next to their photo. They can do as little or as much as they’d like. I’ve got over 300 pages now.

How did you get into instant photography?

When I was moving to New Orleans, originally for school, I wanted a way to bring a piece of my friends with me. I thought it would be cool if I took a Polaroid of them and had them draw something small on the back of the photo. At the time I hadn’t realized that the backs of Polaroid were black, but one of my friends suggested I glue the photos into a notebook and have people draw next to it. My start to instant photography was also the start of The Doodle Project, though I’ve expanded to general Polaroid photography and film photography as well commercial digital photography for work.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

I bought an old SX-70 Alpha 1 that was broken on Ebay for very cheap and I fixed it up myself. I use it for just about everything, but I lost my damned flashbar again. I really need that.

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

A Spectra or a SLR 680. Spectra seems like an interesting size format to work with, and the 680 is just perfect. The 680 seems like the perfect camera for Polaroid street photography.

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

Nothing beats the Impossible Project’s white frame: as much as I like the color packs and the round frames, artistically, I prefer the white frame, though if I don’t have access to it I’ll settle for silver or black frame. That white frame is so iconic.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

I work(ed) at the Frenchmen Art Market, and you can imagine what kind of artists hang around there. What was great was being able to take a moment off from working, talk to the artist next to me and take their photo and get their doodle. It was so accessible, and in the time that it takes for the photo to develop they’ve either finished their doodle or have gotten pretty far into it. Aside from that, I always carry The Doodle Project on me. It’s not that big; just a sketchbook, a camera and a bag of sharpies, pens and pencils. If I’ve got the time, I’ll probably take a photo. I’ve been late to my other job because I’ll be walking through the French Quarter on my way to work and run across someone who I really want to doodle for me, so I take the time out to do it. I haven’t gotten in trouble for that yet.

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

I want to encompass as much as possible about the person in the shot. I’ve got three squared inches to work with, and I want to fill as much of that space as possible with information about the person, be it a clue that they have on their person, a clue in the background, or an emotion that the photo encompasses. What they do with the page is up to them, but that’s just as much of a part of them as the photo I take is.

Any personal projects we should know about?

I’ve been working on an interesting form of photo manipulation with Polaroid’s, but I’m keeping that under wraps until my catalog is large enough to share 😉 Until then, I’m blogging and working on podcasts for  The Doodle Project’s website. The podcasts are the next thing, this Fall I’m getting some studio time at a radio station to use their mics for interviews.

What other photographers do you look up too?

Oh jeez. Henry Cartier-Bresson, Carlos Lobo, Lee Friedlander, Ross Togashi, and New Orleanian photographers like Jose Fernendez, Clint Maedgen, Shannon Brinkman and Vincente Weber are a few. I could nerd about for hours about who I look up to and the cameras they use, so I’ll keep the list short.

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

Sometimes it hurts to see when you’ve messed up a photo. Just don’t throw it out; keep it for later, or give it to someone. Don’t ever get rid of a photo, because the key to instant photography, in my opinion, is that the learning curve is unlike any other kind of photographic method: when you see a photo that you’ve messed up, you can learn what you did wrong just from looking at the photo, and you need that reference if you want to get better. You can say, “Oh, this is orange, so it got exposed to the sun,” or “Right, in this sun, I need to turn the dial one notch to the dark.” It depends. Just gotta keep shooting.

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

You have to find it. That’s the whole point of photography! You can take photos in a studio all day long, but you’re underutilizing the accessibility of the camera if you don’t go out onto the streets and find your photos. Not to mention that people are freaking great; everyone has something to share, and everyone is beautiful, and taking photos of people is just the best, and what they’re willing to share with you for taking their photo is awesome, it’s just the best.

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