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 LA based photographer Lou Noble. Lou has been posting some beautiful shots to the Snap It See It Flickr pool lately. His up close and personal approach to shooting grabbed our attention and we couldn’t wait to share. You can see more work from Lou and follow him online at the links below.
• A little about yourself. Where you are from and what you do.
I was born, raised, and currently live in Los Angeles. I’ve never left here for more than a month, spend my days working on film sets as a medic OR surfing OR taking pictures.
How did you get into instant photography?
Back in 1996 I read a Stephen King story called The Sun Dog, which featured prominently a Polaroid Sun 600. Remembered my mom had a Polaroid stashed away in a closet, after finishing the story I went and dug it out. Turned out to be, wouldn’t ya know it, a Sun 600, with a few shots left inside. Started taking pictures of my friends and never stopped.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
Far and away, my favorite camera, be it for instant or any other kind of photography, is the Polaroid 680. Damn thing’s a marvel, allows me just enough control, lets me get as close as I want to my subjects, and makes the most glorious mechanical ‘whir’ when focusing. When I first got one, at my friend Todd’s suggestion, it changed what had been an occasional pastime into a hardcore hobby. Helped crystalize everything I’d been attempting (poorly) to achieve with my photos up to that point.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
What’s the one Chuck Close uses? the 20×24? Seems like a real beast, and I’m sure I’d hate how slow the whole process is, but damn, the photos it creates? Getting to make a photo like that, hold it in my hands…mmmmmmm.
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
My answer to this always remains the same: the latest one they’ve come out with. I recently got ahold of their upcoming batch, their Generation 2.0 600 film, I’m shocked at how satisfied I am with it. Much more stable, and I dig its palette.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
Nowadays I’ll usually only take a few instant shots during a shoot. Saddens me to say it, but each shot has become precious. That’s a feeling I was very afraid of, because when I was really in the throes of my Polaroid passion, I’d shoot 5-10 packs during a shoot. Never gave a thought to the idea that at some point in the future, Polaroid would just up and stop making the stuff.
But now each shot Counts. It’s not cheap, it’s constantly changing, and there’s not as much room for a happy accident. So if the light is where I like it, if my subject’s particularly engaging, then and only then will I whip out my 680 and take a shot or two.
Every once in awhile I’ll take a shot just to mystify someone with the process. The camera itself, the lovely and antiquated sounds of its internal mechanics, the actual photograph that develops in their hands. It’s a bit of razzle dazzle you really can’t get with any other camera…or, hell, any other artistic medium.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
What I try to do with my instant photos is the same as what I try to do with photography generally: get closer. Photography, for me, has always been about connecting with other people. It’s the conduit through which I became a more social person. It’s how I’ve opened up conversations, made new friends, talked to people I would’ve otherwise been too apprehensive to approach.
I shot instant film long before moving into medium format and, eventually, digital, so I’d say my instant shots are the purest expression of my artistic voice, such as it is. Close, intimate, attempting to present to others the qualities that drew me to my subject in the first place.
With my other cameras I’ll back up, take in more of a scene, give more context to a shot, I’ll focus on movement or the symmetries of a location more. But with a Polaroid, nine times out of ten it’s just a person’s face I’m looking to capture. That’s always where the urge to shoot someone starts, for me. Seeing a face I want to know more about.
Any personal projects we should know about?
Other than trying to shoot as often as possible, most of my artistic energies are going into a site I write for, The Photographic Journal. Over the past year it’s given me the opportunity to interview a bunch of my favorite photographers, and focus more on wider aspects of the photographic world than my little slice in LA. Currently I’m focused on expanding our scope, coming up with some awesome features for the rest of the year.
What other photographers do you look up to?
Julia Galdo’s commercial work (as JUCO with Cody Cloud) always knocks my socks off. Her use of color, her concepts, just gorgeous work, every single time.
Traci Matlock’s photos are potent and provocative in a way so beyond anything else I see out there, it’s always a bit like getting struck by lightning when I see her post new photos.
Ryan McGinley is a hero, not only for the quality of his work, but for his ability to shift styles yet always retain his artistic voice.
Annie Leibovitz, Chris Buck, Richard Avedon. All create striking portraits that, in various ways, cut right to the heart of their subjects.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Do your research. Impossible Project film is very different beast from Polaroid. Polaroid was pretty much like 35mm film, in that the results were consistent, the color palette fairly true to life. IP film is quirky, its colors funkier, and it’s constantly changing, from batch to batch. Used to be that irked me something fierce, but these days I’ve gotten to enjoy it, learned to be more patient.
So…research and patience. And fun. Have fun with it, we’re not saving lives, here. I’ve done that, this is very different.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
Faces. Every single time.