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 the newest member of the Snap It See It team, Melissa Mercado. Melissa will be heading up our Instagram presence and helping brainstorm new ideas for the blog. We are so happy to have her aboard and look forward to her breathing new life into the IG account. We would love for you to show her some love today on Instagram. Remember to hashtag your instant photos with #snapitseeit. She will be watching for photos with the tag and reposting on our feed. To follow along with Melissa on her personal social media accounts, check out the links below.
• A little about yourself. Where you are from and what you do.
Hi, all! My name is Melissa, from New Jersey – I’m just slightly northeast of Philadelphia. By day, I’m an Information Technology Specialist for a government agency. I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with new tech and gadgets, such as digital cameras, but now film – especially instant film – has stolen my heart. I’ve been consistently shooting Impossible Film for about a year and a half now. I’m pretty new to the peel apart films, but love them just the same. Photography started out as a small hobby and now it’s something that I need – and do quite consistently in my spare time.
How did you get into instant photography?
I got into instant photography shortly after I began shooting film. When you start following the work of film shooters, you become exposed to a lot of different mediums and formats. I became intrigued seeing how some artists created lovely, dreamy scenes or intimate portraits. I became drawn to the soft details, how the film captures the light and the perfect imperfections. Before that, I also remember hearing about the new Impossible Project Film becoming available and that also sparked an interest in getting my first Polaroid. Besides the look, I really wanted to be more involved in every frame I captured. I wanted my photography to be a more intimate process, regardless of subject matter.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
Of the four instant film cameras that I own, I love my SX-70 the most. It’s built solidly, portable enough, produces dreamy images with incredible depth of field and it’s a great conversation starter. It fostered my love for instant film.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I’d love to try shooting 8×10 instant film. The large format cameras are something I had never seen in person until last year when I sat down for an 8×10 portrait – the experience from start to finish was so much fun, and I’ve since been curious and would love to learn more and shoot with one of these cameras.
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
Tough one! Because when I think I’ve completely fallen in love with the new generations of Impossible B&W film, I shoot something in color that makes me love the Impossible Color Films. I do however, really love the B&W / Black frame combo. Looks so sleek and sexy.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
When I shoot, 90% of the time it’s personal work. So, when I go on photowalks, I usually take my Polaroid along with a 35mm and my iPhone. I take in consideration where I’m going, temperatures outside and the pace of what I’m doing. Many times I will have my SX-70 with me and use it when I see an opportunity. Because I see and like my results quite quickly, chances are I will ignore my 35mm and just shoot Polaroid. Instant film is now almost always a part of my workflow. I’ve gotten to use it in a few paid portrait sessions, too.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
I think instant film is helping define my overall photographic voice. I’m more specific and deliberate with instant film and recently I’ve been willing to experiment and take a chance on a scene that may not exactly photograph the way I might think it will. For me, it’s still very much a learning process. Shooting consistently with my Polaroid SX-70 and Impossible Film has also given me the courage to shoot portraits of friends, family and people I meet – especially in the last 6 months or so. Previously, most of my images were landscape/cityscapes and shooting instant has been my gateway for portrait work- which I’ve always loved, but just shied away from. Whether people know this about me or not, I can be a bit nostalgic at times, so overall, my photography has always been about capturing “ordinary” scenes or objects and seeing something special about them, how I remember who and what they relate to or simply tying the image to a memory of a time and place.
Any personal projects we should know about?
There are plenty of things I’d love to shoot on instant film, but no specific projects. One of my goals at the moment is to shoot one pack of Impossible Film and have all 8 frames be “keepers.” I’ve got a few packs of expired 669 film I’ve purchased and would love to shoot that very soon – especially since my experience with expired film is limited. I’m also looking forward to helping out the guys here at the Snap It See It blog while continuing to improve my instant film skills and learning from them and others.
What other photographers do you look up too?
I can probably throw out a few famous names, but honestly (and I know I say this all the time), I’m quite inspired by the instant film community. It has been through social media – Twitter, Instagram, Flickr – that I’ve found my “instant film role models.” Without knowing it, a lot of these people have inspired me to get out and shoot instant film and also share my work (which I was deathly afraid of at one time).
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Stick with it. Be patient. Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes the results will not be what we expect. A few friends of mine have begun to shoot instant film and I have heard and experienced their frustration, so get to know and love your camera – there’s a special relationship you two will form. You will learn it’s quirks, when it performs at it’s best and when it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to experiment and reach out to other folks with questions. I have come to find out, someone will definitely reach out and point you in the right direction.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
A little bit of both. Some days I just look for something to jump out – it can be pattern, texture or simply light falling a certain way. Other days, I’m very specific with what I want to achieve, for example, portraits. On occasion, if another instant film shooter posts a tutorial or the results of an experiment, that might be inspiration to try the same or similar and see the results for myself.