Artist Spotlight: Kristian O. Gundersen

Self portrait

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means. Time for this weeks Artist Spotlight! This week we have Kristian O. Gundersen. I came across Kristian on Instagram and immediately fell in love with his camera collection. The more I dove into his feed, the more I loved his process and approach to instant photography. Please take the time to check him out.





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

I’m from Norway. The cold part. Living inside the polar circle in one of the northernmost cities in the world. I constantly hunt the light as light is rare during the winter and 24/7 during the summer. I work as a sign maker, mostly designing graphics for cars, airplanes, bikes, signs(!) and whatnot. Photography is my hobby and when not shooting pictures I mostly talk cameras, repair them and occasionally sell some cameras from my collection.

How did you get into instant photography?

I like to think of my entry into instant photography as a merge of several layers, the first layer was my discovery of a Polaroid 600 camera on top of a pile of junk in the back of a closed clothing store. Second layer was when I some 3 years ago purchased my first Polaroid Sun 600 at a flea marked that still had film in it. To my disappointment the batteries were flat so I couldn’t test it right there, but I thought that I could replace the batteries somehow. After a lot of trial and error trying to open the plastic case (I never googled how to replace batteries) I gave up and put the camera on a shelf. In 2009 I discovered that the location of the batteries were not inside the camera, but in the film case. I felt so stupid. From then on I started to buy Polaroid cameras and when Impossible first launched their new films I was addicted. At some time I had more than 50 instant cameras, most of them working and I really spent a fortune on film. The third layer was when I within a year expanded my camera collection from Polaroid to all kinds of cameras and started to experiment with tintype photography on both 4×5″ and 5×7″ cameras. Tintype was the first real instant photography (introduced in 1851) and is now wildly popular again among analogue photographers.
My fourth and final layer (so far) is taking pictures with Fujifilm´s FP films. I have a Polaroid 405 back for my Graflex Crown Graphic 4×5″ camera and my winter project is to construct a Polaroid 4×5 film holder for my antique Gundlach Korona 5×7″ View Camera from 1902!

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

My all time favorite camera used for instant photography is as mentioned my Gundlach Korona 5×7 View Camera. I use it mainly for shooting tintypes. The variety of lenses and camera movement is out of this world. At least compared to the other cameras I use for instant photography: The 4×5″ Graflex Crown Graphic, a red Polaroid 600 Cool Cam, a Polaroid Spectra, a Cambo Passportrait and a Polaroid 5 Macro Camera.

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

I have not tried the Polaroid Bigshot yet, however I have a friend who is willing to trade it, so I guess it will be included in my collection soon. It was Andy Warhol´s favorite instant camera by the way so It has to be good for something.

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

My favorite film is the Fujifilm pack film. Fujifilm FP100c or FP3000b. Impossible make some decent film, but Im not overly impressed with what they´ve made so far. I have not had a chance to try out their newest line of film yet, but Im going to buy a lot soon. I bought the iconic Polaroid SX-70 a week ago and can’t wait to see if it works. I just have to repair it using parts from another sx-70 that I have.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Instant photography has really changed both my workflow and mind flow. I get to challenge myself all the time and the sense of calm when Im doing analogue photography is absolutely fantastic. With analogue photography I’m not set on only doing studio works such as portraits, I kind of grasp over everything.
I don’t look for the perfect picture, the perfect pose nor the perfect light any more. I accept things as they are and I enjoy grasping over different fields and never having a red line to follow.

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

When I started with digital photography some nine years ago I was always looking for perfection and the female form had always inspired me so I kind of ended up only doing nude studio work, which was fun for a while, but the constant pressure on my self and the pace for the best gear available made me really sick of the whole thing and I ended up not touching a camera for almost a year.
With instant photography I discovered everything else. The city I live in is kind of ugly and I did not see anything worth taking pictures of. Only after I watched a documentary about Sally Mann and her way of seeing things I began using my eyes to see beauty in everything, to capture it and hang it on a wall for everyone to see. One thing is for sure; I will never go back to digital photography.

Any personal projects we should know about?

Not at the moment, except that I´m building my own tintype photo studio / darkroom.

What other photographers do you look up too?

Sally Mann, Joni Sternbach, Andy Warhol & Daniel Carrillo

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

The easiest (and cheapest) way of getting into instant photography is to buy a working Polaroid camera and a pack of film. Tintype photography is not cheap, trust me. Fujifilm can be cheap, but the cameras and equipment I use it for is most definitely not. Remember that shooting analogue is not like digital. Use common sense, your brain and heavily consider what to frame. I had a hard time doing that when I first started and the first 20 packs of Impossible film were just junk because my mind was still set on the way digital photography works.

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

I always walk around planning that next image.I get questions from time to time about doing commercial work with “polaroids”. What I do is I have 5 or more private and work related projects spinning around in my head simultaneously overlapping and interacting with each other for months and years(!). Each project has their own little quirky way to be completed, and by borrowing parts of each idea I get really inspired to walk around seeking and snapping an instant or 20. I then try to put that idea aside by moving on to the next project, but what I mostly end up with is a mix of everything and this really reflect on how most of my images turns out.  




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