Artist Spotlight: Rachael Yates

It’s Monday, that means it’s time for another 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. We try to provide our readers with a new spotlight each week, 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!


This week our spotlight is on Texas photographer Rachael Yates. We came across Rachael on Instagram and loved her work! Then we checked out her Flickr feed and confirmed she truly is an amazing artist! Please do yourself a favor and check out all of her social media links. Trust us, you will be inspired.

Flickr | Twitter | Instagram

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


My name is Rachael Yates, I’m 29 years-old and I enjoy long, romantic walks on the beach at sunset with my cameras. Aside from being completely unable to describe myself, I live in the sweltering heat of Houston with my little loves, a dog named Zoe and a cat named Hobbes. During the week, I work as a director of marketing for a manufacturing company. Instant photography is my escape from the “real” world. It pushes me to look at everything in a different light and gives me the license to get excited about little things. The immediate and permanent aspect captured in each photo becomes a portal to the moment when I release the shutter.


How did you get into instant photography?


As a child, I didn’t grow up around cameras, photography or the arts. Photography has always fascinated me, but I didn’t pick up a camera until sometime in 2012. Armed with a basic Nikon DSLR and no knowledge of how to use it, I stumbled upon a monthly photographers meeting at a local camera shop. Everyone in the meeting had been photographing professionally for decades and they welcomed me with open arms. After the meeting, they handed me my first Polaroid, a Land 100. I spent the next month learning about pack film, refurbishing the camera and emptying several film packs. The following month, the photographers group gave me two folding SX-70s, which lead to my discovery of The Impossible Project. There was no going back after that!


What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?


My current every day, go-to cameras are the SX-70 Alpha SE and the SLR 680. The Polaroid Land 100 is still my favorite — but it (along with several of my other pack film cameras — is in desperate need of repair. For self-portraits, I lean towards Spectras or the folding Land cameras with a timer or cable trigger. When I’m on the go, the Polaroid 300 is great for quick shots. The Instant Lab is still new to me, but I love the ability to (somewhat) easily create double exposures and recreate moments where you weren’t able to have a Polaroid camera.


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


That’s quite a long list! I’d really like to start getting into 4×5 formats and I’ve been drooling over a 600 SE lately. In a less realistic world, I dream of the 8 x10 and 20×24 cameras.


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


It depends on the moment, the camera and what I’m trying to capture. For the most part, I lean towards the 600 or 70 color types. When Impossible first came out with the round frame format, I thought I would hate it, but the frame creates a porthole view effect that I really love and can’t seem to get enough of lately. A simple photo of the horizon turns into a crystal ball and a mountain view feels like a peak into another world. For pack film, the blues in Polacolor 679 Silk are dreamlike.


How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?


I guess that depends on how you would describe the word workflow. My daily job often requires digital photos of massive equipment or aerial photoshoots. There’s a stark contrast between my work and personal photography to say the least. Personally, I would prefer to think of instant as my regular workflow. I try to carry at least one instant camera with me at all times and over the past few months, I’ve been challenging myself to shoot something new every day. Due to my schedule, that’s not always possible to achieve, but the goal keeps me going.


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


Random and emotive. My work is a balance between moments I want captured and stories I want to tell. I started photography as a form of therapy and an outlet to secretly shout at the world. It’s as if my mind is filled with memories and narratives but the only way to get them out is through photos. My voice tends to be all over the place, but I will always be drawn to portraits. With instant, self-portraits tend to be more difficult, but that only makes me love them even more. In a literal sense, I can take the emotion I was feeling when I took the photo and leave it inside the frame.


Any personal projects we should know about?


Over the next few months, I’d like to start series based work instead of the random, whatever catches my eye or pops into my head method I’ve been using. I’ve tried to shy away from the ever present self-portraiture, but the call is strong so you can expect to see more of that. I’m also in the process of experimenting with emulsions and other post process techniques.  

What other photographers do you look up too?


There are so many amazing photographers out there. From a personal standpoint, I look up to my brother, Joshua Yates. He works as a newspaper photographer and my constant inspiration. I recently passed the instant film bug on to him and even his first few Polaroids blew me out of the water.


Some of the more well-known photographers I look up to include Francesa Woodman, Gregory Crewdson, Ryan McGinely, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Cindy Sherman, Dash Snow and so many other incredibly inspiring photographers.


 The list of instant photographers I look up too is insanely long. Leanne Surfleet, Ashley Saldana, Andrew Bartram, Toby Hancock and Ben Innocent were some of the first instant photographers I discovered on Flickr. Patrick J. Clarke and everyone on the The Instant Photo Show podcast are some truly fantastic people that continually share their love of instant film with the world.


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


Don’t quit. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at it, instant photography is always a surprise. That’s probably my favorite part about it.


When you shoot with digital or your phone, it’s easy to just keep pressing the button or edit the photo later. With instant, you end up taking your time, thinking through each shot and treasuring the moment.


The instant community is incredibly close knit and encouraging. If you’re struggling with something, reach out!


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


My creativity comes in uncontrollable waves. I’m always looking for inspiration, but it always comes when I least expect it. There are raw moments where the light hits, something perfectly or an angle catches my eye, then there are the random visualizations running through my head. Most of my ideas come to me while I’m driving and/or listening to music.  It’s one of the rare times I can tune the world out but those concepts rarely live up to what I envision and end up changing.


There’s also a large amount of work I’ve never posted because it was too real or too painful. I have a strange obsession with capturing the worst moments in my life because they all seem to make sense later on.


In the end, I’ve learned it’s best to just wait for the moment to come.

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