Welcome back to another Artist Spotlight. This week our featured artist is Mat Marrash. Hailing from northwest Ohio, Mat has ditched his gym membership and can typically be seen around town carrying unnecessarily large film cameras. When he’s not out shooting, you can hear Mat alongside two other great photographers Michael Raso and John Fedele on the internet radio show, The Film Photography Podcast. Mat has been shooting instant film since 2009 and has no plans of stoping anytime soon.
How did you get into instant photography?
I discovered instant film amidst learning to use my first film camera, a Hasselblad 500C. Shortly after, I purchased my first Polaroid Automatic Land Camera, the Polaroid 420. Since peeling my first shots on expired Polaroid 669, I was hooked! Going further down the rabbit hole, I got my hands on a stockpile of expired Polaroid 809, and started going to work making instant portraits with an 8×10 camera!
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
Though neither are dedicated instant cameras, my Eastman Commercial B or Sinar P2 8×10 cameras. Being able to control every last little detail in the scene while also having the versatility of multiple lenses is my reason for shooting 8×10. Oh, and the giant instant print, that too.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
Shooting the 20×24 Polaroid is definitely at the top of my instant film bucket list. Peeling 8×10 prints is a thrill, so peeling something 6x that surface area must be an out-of-body experience!
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
Since it’s beta testing during the Summer of 2012, I’d have to say Impossible Silver Shade PQ 8×10! A VERY close 2nd place goes to Polaroid 809 & 669. They have the same breathtaking color palette, and even though they’re no longer made, I have full confidence the fine folks over at The Impossible Project will come through with 8×10 color soon.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
In my medium format work, being able proof exposures is imperative. In the occasional film wedding I shoot, shooting Polaroids offers the bride and groom instant feedback, as well as bringing a smile to everyone’s face. There’s a certain feel to holding an instant print that looking at an LCD screen will never compare. And in the 8×10 world, the work is usually intended as the final output, and only used for proofing in situations where getting the shot is paramount (long distance travel, slide film, etc.).
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
My instant film work is much more intimate, focusing almost entirely on portraiture. With each instant camera, I find myself getting as close as physically possible to the subject. The process is also much more enjoyable for both parties to witness, so the subjects are more receptive to the process as the shoot progresses.
Any personal projects we should know about?
“Barbershops” and my “8×10 Instant” work. Two very different bodies of work, one uses 8×10 instant for proofing and is entirely B&W, the other is all 8×10 color, and are personal influences, each responsible for a different aspect of my work. Later this year, I’ll be starting up another project, focusing on a very distinct group of young people and the interesting characters they portray. Stay tuned. 😉
What other photographers do you look up too?
I adore the classic B&W works of: Edward Curtis, Walker Evans, Edward Weston, George Tice, and a lesser known fellow, Art Sinsabaugh. In the world of color, the list is long, so I’ll simplify it by saying many contemporary large format shooters.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Shot as much film as you can, as soon as you can. The film isn’t getting any younger, and neither are you. Shoot some, enjoy it, then shoot some more! Make every shot county, but don’t be stingy. You’ve spent plenty of money, time, and energy getting to the spot you’re at, don’t cheap out now and regret not getting the shot. Mistakes will happen, and you will learn from them. Getting them out of the way now will only lead to better photographs later. Whenever you can afford it, print your pictures. You and the rest of the world will appreciate them more on paper than on a screen.
Where does most of your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
Being an extrovert, (or so my girlfriend tells me), I gather all of my energy, inspiration included, from my surroundings. Surrounding myself with other photographers, shooting or engaging in conversation, is enough to get the mind working on that next image. Personally, I find it easier to put myself in a situation where inspiration will hit, aka shooting, rather than sit around waiting for it to happen. Keep shooting, printing, and potentially failing, and something good will come of it. My two most prominent projects were born from a One-A-Day challenge; forcing myself to take one frame on a 8×10 camera each day, for what ended up being six months. Only by being out with the camera, ready to make images, was I able to take the first shots that inspired a whole series.
Want to see more of Mat’s work? Here are some links to find him online.