Monday brings you guys another Artist Spotlight! Today, we shine on Bay Area, California Artist Rodney Brown. As a local music producer and photographer, Rodney is quite a talented man and has his hands busy with several personal and collaborative projects. He’s been making quite a buzz lately with his polaroid work, and today we see what makes him tick as far as photography goes and we get to see some of his amazing work.
A little about yourself. Where you are from and what you do.
a: Im never good at these. My name is Rodney Brown, I am from the beautiful Bay Area of California. I actually currently live in a dingy farm town named Tracy just outside of the Bay for the last few years now, so I spend most of my time driving way too much to the bay so I can stay cultured. Oh, and I also take pictures.
How did you get into instant photography?
Instant photography has always been something I admired from afar. My first attempts with early impossible film and expired 600 film just never turned out the way I wanted, so I just fell in love with the works of others while I continued to shoot mostly 35mm. But after a close to 2 year hiatus from shooting period, I wanted to find a way to keep creating, but I decided I really wanted it to mean something this time. It had become increasingly important for me to be connected to things in recent years, and I think the tangible touch of polaroids really struck a chord with me. My SX70 has become in one part an artful weapon, but in another almost equal way, a tool to bring people together. Those unfamiliar are usually in awe when they see that weird silver thing shoots out photos. Everyone’s happy when you shoot instant film. Its exciting, even when your photo sucks. Its a happy medium to use. I like that.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
I kind of gave it away above, but my favorite would be my one and only silver and black sonar SX70. The red shutter button cap is missing so the button is gold, which looks kind of swanky from far away with one eye closed. I like it. It’s solid. I take it everywhere.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I am dying to get my hands on a Mint 670M. I have heard so many great things about their cameras and would love to take polaroids with manual exposure. It seems fun man. And I feel I would get the most out of my film, being able to set exposure perfectly with each shot. I’ve seen one in person though. Shout out to Mint – you really have something there.
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
Once I learned it’s personality, I have fell in love with Impossible’s latest Color PX70 film. It is gorgeous. If money wasn’t an option, I’d have a pack in my back pocket at all moments. It is incredibly sharp, and the tones are beautiful. Did I mention it was pretty?
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
The awesome thing about shooting instant is you can turn any moment into a photo op. Normal, everyday life – food even- can become interesting to photograph. Depends on where I am, and how I am feeling. Seeing a friend for coffee can end in a beautiful portrait. Versatility, man. I just try to carry my camera in my car wherever I go. I don’t feel like I always have to take a pretty girl to the woods! It’s kind of liberating. I still do anyway.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
Sincerity… I’ll keep it simple. We can create drama, or add sadness, or make things more posh for fashion work, but sincerity is always the hardest to fake. Probably because you cant. You feel sincerity. Instantly, and without thought. That’s incredible. And powerful. I want to use some of that stuff. So I guess you would say my vision is to do my best to make sure others feel that. They feel the work is genuine, from a place they can relate to. No matter what Im shooting.
Any personal projects we should know about?
I love themes and I love music, so I am trying to do some work centered around particular compelling songs I love. I’ll encourage the viewers to listen to the song while they view the gallery of the shoot, and hopefully they feel how they flow together. Make it an interactive kind of experience.
I also love supporting local artist and hope to do a few collaborations local Bay Area musicians. One of the first being a young producer named Feeltrip. Check him out on Soundcloud. And hopefully much, much more in the future
What other photographers do you look up too?
There are several people I know personally who are amazing, Brandon Long, Justin Molina… I’ll go out shooting with one of them and to see how they work and see things just gets me stoked, and makes me want to try new things for myself. Other than that, Chelsie Oliveri, Chris de Block and Clohe Aftel are three ladies whose work I am crazy about. Shout out to them. Just constantly killing it.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Make sure you have some extra money to EXPERIMENT. Make mental (or physical) notes. Pay attention to light. Using Impossible film, it’s all about learning the different characteristics in varying scenarios. Other than that, just bring your camera everywhere. I’ve been trying to shoot in some way almost everyday if I can. It really helps.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
It’s a little bit of both. As far as aesthetically, I love iconic fashion photography from the different eras. Mostly 50s – 70s. I really don’t think too much, or do much planning otherwise. I just keep shooting. The best way to stay inspired, i’ve learned, is to keep impressing yourself. So I keep trying out new places, with new people. I keep looking at the work of other photographers I love and just try things out. I just want to make the kind of art that I love.