Artist Spotlight: Meghan Davidson

PX70_Cool_Day6_rs It’s Monday, and that means it’s Artist Spotlight time. If you are new to the blog, this is our weekly spotlight featuring people that have captured our eye with their instant art. This week we are featuring Meghan Davidson from Lincoln, Nebraska. We have been following Meghan on Twitter for a while now, and always love her post. Please be sure to check out more of her work at the following links.

Website | Twitter | Flickr | Instagram

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

I’m a psychologist who works as a faculty member at a large university, spending most of my work-life conducting research and teaching. I am also a licensed therapist and maintain a small private practice working with clients to help them with their goals and dreams. While I love my work as a psychologist, a personal health crisis woke me up and helped me realize I had built a life that focused rather narrowly on my academic work, career, and external markers of “success.” This awakening allowed me to feel very deeply the truth of the old adage that “life is short.” So I decided to jump more fully into life, particularly where creativity was concerned. I decided that I really could listen to the creative longings of my heart. And, thus, I jumped into photography and blogging on my website, Life Refocused. My photography and Life Refocused are all about reframing my life from that primary emphasis on my career and academic achievements, to focusing on my journey of becoming a photographer, exploring a creative life, and dwelling in “what really matters.” Originally from the east coast, I currently live in Lincoln, Nebraska with my partner and adorable Labrador retriever.

How did you get into instant photography?

I’ve always been drawn to film and all things old-school, even before I started getting serious about my own photography. So when I began my journey exploring my creativity behind the lens, I was rather immediately drawn to instant photography. There were a few artists whose work I had admired for a number of years and they all shot instant film. I knew that “the look” of instant was what I wanted to create in my own photography.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

The traditional folding SX-70 has always had my heart, although the SLR680 is beginning to capture a certain corner of it these days.

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

I have a number of pack cameras that use the peel-apart instant film, but I don’t have the Polaroid 195. I’d LOVE to have and shoot with that camera given the ability to control the aperture and shutter speed.

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

My favorite IMPOSSIBLE film is the first issue of the PX70 Color Protection film (came out in Fall of 2012). I thought that film had great color, no banding and/or specks, and was very predictable. Unfortunately that film is gone. I also loved the PX600 Black Frame for black and white photos. Even with it’s unstable nature and tendency to fade, the tones in that film were incredible. I’m very excited to try the new B&W 600 that IMPOSSIBLE just released.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

These days, I’m primarily shooting instant film, so it IS my regular workflow! My digital camera is gathering dust as it hasn’t been touched in months.

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

My vision for my instant photography is to shoot images that convey some emotionality. I personally want to connect with the photographs that I take, and that connection most often comes on an emotional level. This may be conveyed through the expression of a person’s face in a portrait, the color or tones in the image that express a mood or feeling, or the content itself which may evoke a nostalgia or timelessness. Ultimately, my hope is that the viewer connects to the photograph and feels some emotion.

Any personal projects we should know about?

YES! For the past six months, I’ve been immersed in a 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits project, taking a self-portrait each day using only my Polaroid cameras and instant film from the IMPOSSIBLE Project. As I hit the halfway point of 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits, I see how much I’m growing as a photographer, but also as a person. What began as a photography project has morphed into a larger metaphor about myself and life. This project consistently unveils lessons to me at every turn, showing me an insight into life through the process of shooting, by stepping way outside my comfort zone, or in my reaction to a photograph. My greatest desire is to write a book, compiling these awakenings and learnings along with a large selection of the self-portraits. I’m actively seeking a publisher! You can see more about 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits here

What other photographers do you look up too?

Oh the list is so long and ever-growing! I admire and have learned from the work of greats including Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, and Imogen Cunningham. In addition to these historic figures in photography, I also really admire the work of so many fellow shooters in the instant film community. I’m constantly inspired by the photography I see in the Flickr pools associated with Snap It See It and the IMPOSSIBLE Project.

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

For anyone just starting out shooting instant film, my main piece of advice is to “stay with it and be patient.” It takes time to really get to know the variety of different films out there, so be gentle with yourself and that process. It also takes time to get to know the specific camera(s) with which you are shooting. For example, with the older folding SX-70s and the SLR680s, the mirrors inside may have wiggled a bit out of place over time. This translates into what you see in the viewfinder may not match the image that gets produced. As well, a particular camera may tend to over- or underexpose the films made by IMPOSSIBLE. You have to practice, shoot a ton, and learn each of your cameras to make adjustments like these. But if you hang in there and when you “get it,” you will fall in love.

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

My inspiration comes in all varieties – I seek it out and it finds me. I’m inspired by color and shape and light. These elements are around me daily, I just have to pay attention (sometimes that can be a challenge with all the other parts of life tugging at me). And then there are times when I truly seek out inspiration, often turning to other art forms including sculpture and paintings. I’ve had many photography ideas come to me when I’m driving or waiting in line somewhere or attending an event, and although I swear that I’ll remember them later, I’ve seen how quickly I forget. So, I now carry a notebook with me at all times to jot down ideas and inspiration when it comes.

Comments

  1. thank you for sharing the goodness of meghan. i love her work. and her!

  2. I love your 365 project. Have seen some photos via Twitter and Flickr 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] including some of my very favorite instant shots I’ve ever taken. I hope you click HERE to check it all out. And, many thanks to Snap It See It for showcasing my work and photography in […]

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