Artist Spotlight: Mara Foley

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for an 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. While we try to provide our readers with a new spotlight each week, I’ll be the first to admit we have been lacking in this department lately. Feedback from the community are the best way to make these spotlights happen, 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!
Garden of the Gods
Today we are featuring Mara Foley. We found Mara through the Snap It See it Flickr pool and fell in love with her work. Based in Philadelphia, Mara has expertise in numerous photographic processes, which is reflected by her varied subject matter, the core of her work being an exploration of the alternate realities that cameras can produce rather than a singular one. You can see more of her work and show her some love by checking out the following links.



How did you get into instant photography?

I’ve been passionate about photography for as long as I can remember. I first began shooting on Polaroid film as a child. One of my favorite memories is taking Polaroids of my friends on the playground using my Spice Cam.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

My goodness could this questions be any harder?! I would have to say the Instant Lab by Impossible Project is essential to my Double Exposure process, so that has to be up there.
I received the new I-1 the day it came out and have been shooting with it as often as possible ever since; back in 2011 I ordered a Blue One Step Auto Focus 600 Instant Film Camera from Impossible Project that I called “The Big Blue Whale” that re-ignited my love for instant film. This is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. I don’t think I can choose.  

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

I’m embarrassed to admit it but I need/want to shoot with an SX70 but I haven’t yet. I’m also in awe of Mint’s SLR670 and the Instant Flex TL70; I’d love to give those a shot. All three of these cameras are on my wish list!

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

I love Impossible Project 600 color film. It works perfectly with everything I shoot, especially with my Instant Lab. My favorite thing about it is that I’m able to reproduce black and white images on the 600 color film with the lab; the way the color film reproduces black and white photographs is truly magical. All the whites are slightly warmer and blacks are a mixture of deep black, blues, and purples. It feels warm and otherworldly.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Being an alternative process photographer I don’t have a regular work flow or routine. Im very experimental with my work, shooting style, etc. My double exposure work has a completely different process than going out and shooting with a model or street photography does. I feel the need to shake things up when they’re becoming too routine. When my work is feeling too forced, then it’s time for me to move on or try something new, something more challenging. I find the most growth is possible for my work as well as for myself when I try to push things further, challenging myself to find different ways, better ways… sometimes worse ways. I feel like if any part of my workflow is routine it’s that I always need to shake it up.

That being said, Instant film is possibly my absolute favorite tool for giving life to my images. There is nothing else like it.  The film is untamable; the reality it yields equally so. I want to achieve a distinct dreamy look that I’ve never been able to achieve with digital. The majority of my work is experimental and abstract. The initial images may be something I have captured digitally or have scanned, but for the final version I find the finished digital mediums are just too clear, too sharp, and are essentially lacking that unique magic that my work craves.

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

As a photographer I want to create images that could not be seen without the use of a camera, to stretch and bend a slice of recorded “reality” into a reality unique to the photographic medium. 

Any personal projects we should know about?

I have recently finished my website I’m looking into making a book of the double exposures that I think would be a lot of fun, but my primary goals are to keep expanding both my Double Exposure series as well as my portrait work and to try to get the work out there as much as possible.

What other photographers do you look up too?

When I encountered one of Jerry Uelsmann’s photographs I instantly realized the sort of work I wanted to create. I started at a new school and barely knew anyone; I was already experiencing a sort of slanted, unreality. When I sat down on the first day of Film class, I saw there in front of me the most beautiful photograph I had ever seen. It was of a broken down house atop a tree stump, the sky beyond and above dark and stormy, as though it’s about to rain. However, the anticipation of that rain was frozen, and remains so forever, just a moment before falling on a house that could never have existed outside of the picture. The emotion that it evoked was so powerful that I immediately began to research his process and work. It was this photograph that stirred my desire to become a photographer, and inspired my own artistic goals. . I wanted to be able to evoke that emotion that Uelsmann’s work evoked in my in adolescence, to ground us and lift us at once through the experience of a photographic world that can be encountered nowhere else.

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

Grab and go and get out there! Experiment! Don’t be afraid to try and fail!  I find more growth and inspiration in my “failed” attempts than I do in my successes. With the “failed” works I can see or learn or troubleshoot what went wrong and grow from there. Also “failed” works are perfect for learning and practicing new processes such as Polaroid lifts or other techniques.

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

Most of my inspiration comes from my life. Relationships, friendships, and people I meet. Places I’ve been or seen. Some of it finds me in a dream or taking a walk but at times when I’m stuck I will do research on google, in my art history books, try and connect with other artists, hear about their stories and their process.

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