Welcome back to another Artist Spotlight. A weekly feature where we showcase artist doing beautiful things with instant film photography. This week the spotlight is on Kiera Haddock. Kiera joins us from Orem Utah where she lives with her husband, four children, an independent cat and a high maintenance dog. Also check out her tintype! She had one done by the same photographer that shot our Co-Founder Francisco Chavira as well! Photobooth SF is the place to be for tintype portraits!
I have been shooting professionally for about 5 years but have only recently started shooting film again after a long hiatus. I finally feel like I found my source again. I love photography. I love the creative expression is allows for and the discipline involved in producing quality imagery. I lose myself in it. I have been shooting instant film since a very fortuitous day 2+ years ago when a surprise package was delivered in the mail. ;))))
How did you get into instant photography?
I can remember when I was kid watching my mom take pictures with her sx70 using time zero film. She would take the photo and then would immediately place it on the hood of the car and begin her creative process. The car would gently heat the image and as the picture started to appear she would use various tools to manipulate the polaroid. She would artistically swirl the emulsion around intentionally creating a polaroid that looked more like a painting than a photograph. I was fascinated by that magical process and the seed was planted. Fast forward 20+ years when I received a mysterious package in the mail. It was from a man named Raymond Tran. I will never forget his name. I never met the dude, Iʼm sure I never will, but on that day he changed the trajectory of my photography career. The package he sent contained two packs of brand new Impossible Project px70 Push! film. I didn’t order it. Didn’t have a clue why it was sent it to me. I didnʼt even own a polaroid camera. Honestly, itʼs still a mystery to this day. Receiving this film (read: manna) apparently out of nowhere was obviously a mix up, but it was also destiny! 🙂 I immediately got onto Ebay looking to buy my first ever sx-70 camera just like the one I remembered from my childhood. Instant photography is the ability to see something beautiful, photograph it the way you see it, and then forget everything and watch as the film takes on a life of its own with flaws and nuances that could never be predicted, recreated or duplicated. Instant photography is magic and who doesn’t love a little magic?
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
My favorite camera is my Polaroid Spectra. I found it at the Salvation Army for $5. It wasn’t long before I learned how to double expose an image and once I figured that out, I was hooked. I love the wide format, that it has a flash, a self timer, a frogʼs tongue and of course that it can be easily tricked into double exposing. It is also very sturdy and compact.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I havenʼt used peel apart film really at all. I own the Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera that I have modified. I only shot with it once with what turned out to be totally worthless expired film. I should probably get some fresh film and start there.
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
Iʼm not sure I can answer that. I have been using impossible films since the very early days and each time a new film came out, it was better than the last. The PX70 CP seems to be pretty great. I like it a lot so far. Its more stable than previous films which is good… and bad. One thing I love about impossible film is the subtle nuance; the surprises and the unexpected color shifts that happen spontaneously on their own. I recently tried the PX680 gold frame film and the color and texture of that emulsion is phenomenal. I wish I had more of it so if I HAD to choose, it *might* be my favorite.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
I love shooting a variety of different cameras when Iʼm on a shoot. Taking instants of my subject is part of my process. In the past, I have done instant sessions before where we would shoot a pack of film and the client would receive the originals after I scanned them. That was fun. I should probably do more of those. I think more people need polaroids in their possession. Little original artistic relics.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
I like to think my voice is pretty consistent from my film work to my instant work. I see the way I see regardless of the viewfinder I am looking through. If anything, I feel like my instant work further defines my style and gives greater depth to my voice as an artist. It excels in unpredictability, flaws, and character. The color variations canʼt be beat. Itʼs just a beautiful way to shoot.
Any personal projects we should know about?
All of my projects are personal. I love to collaborate with other artists and clients alike and I love to conceptualize and shoot around a feeling, a story, or an emotion.
What other photographers do you look up too?
Creative people in general inspire me so I like to surround myself with as many artists as possible.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
I would suggest you bring at least 2 instant cameras with you on a shoot. Once you have a great shot, take it on two separate cameras with two different films. Always back up your best shots. Study the film and learn to understand how to make it look its best. Experiment! Then, once you feel confident in how the film *might* behave, go to town. Shoot bravely. Expect disappointment. Know that its worth it. Fresh film helps a lot. Expired film is a whole different beast but also totally worth shooting.
Where does most of your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
Inspiration comes to me when I suddenly see something that Iʼve seen many times before, in a brand new way. My perception shifts somehow and all of the sudden that previously mundane object, familiar face, or common scene becomes something fresh and new. Often, this happens when I am exploring my subject through my viewfinder and trying to see the scene in a unexpected way. Sometimes, there is no inspiration to speak of. In those cases, I try to give myself a break, and not expect to be turned on creatively 100% of the time. If I am in serious need of creative expression and Iʼm feeling nothing (which has happened plenty of times especially in the winter), I drag myself out there with my camera and explore in the way I stated above. Fake it till you make it! 🙂 I always say follow your energy. Shooting instant film is how I follow mine.