Artist Spotlight: Scott Southall

Portait by Kate Montella

Portait by Kate Montella

Welcome back to this weeks Artist Spotlight. Today we are featuring the work of Scott Southall. Scott comes to us from Columbia, SC and has been a very active follower of ours on twitter since we launched the blog. Shooting mainly with an SX-70 and Impossible films, Scott finds the beauty around him on a daily basis. You can find more of his work at the following links. Make sure to stop by his Twitter feed and say hello!

Flickr | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr


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

Scott has had entirely too many jobs, and has currently developed insomnia working nights at the front desk of a hotel. He has always lived in Columbia, SC and wouldn’t mind being kidnapped and smuggled out of the country. You can often find him with a camera attached to his face, burning through his weight in instant film photographing every pretty pair of eyes that beckons to him. He’s almost comfortable talking about himself in the third person, but doesn’t think he’ll make a habit out of it.

How did you get into instant photography?

I usually blame Lou O’bedlam for it. I’d been following a hand full of photographers a couple years ago, but his archives on Flickr were full of hundreds of amazing Polaroids supplemented by stories that made them more personal, or that gave you a glimpse of a person that you’ve never met, but that you’d probably want to. I’d never held a Polaroid camera before the Summer of 2011, but when I was offered one I hunted down a way to get some film and strove to make my own archive of stories and faces.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

 I’ve had a Polaroid SX-70 Sonar for about a month, and I love it. For some reason, since I started using it I’ve been getting better colors out of my photos, and of course it lets me focus on all of the other details I’m guessing at while it focuses on faces for me.

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

 I’ve been wanting to buy a Mamiya RZ67 with a pack film back for a couple of years, but I’m a bit too poor for that. I love the idea of having an incredibly good lens taking photographs on film you don’t have to develop.

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

At the moment it’s The Impossible Project’s PX70 color protection film. I came into this instant film thing late, so I never got to experience the stability and consistency of Polaroid film, but the folks over at the Impossible Project have come a long way since I started using their film two years ago. The colors I’ve been getting have been heartwarming, and it’s less susceptible to the elements these days, so I worry less about protecting the film and more about capturing the person in front of me.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

 Instant film is my regular work flow. I learned the basics of photography on a crappy digital point and shoot number for a few months, but the bulk of my time has been spent with film, particularly instant film. If I’m shooting with a digital camera these days it’s just to help my brain wake up a little or because I want to shoot some video. The ultimate goal is always to end up sitting around waiting for a little miracle to appear while having a conversation about photography with a beautiful woman.

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

 I still feel like I’m brand new at all of this since I started taking photos 2 ½ years ago, so I’m not sure about my overall voice or vision. I think I’m just looking for what I love about someone. The first time I walked by Caroline and Charlotte (the girls lying in the grass), I knew instantly that I wanted to photograph them but I probably couldn’t articulate why very well. I told a friend of theirs that strangers probably walk past them everyday and fall madly in love, and they’re none the wiser. I want that. I want that air they have about them that enchants strangers, that quality that is in no way palpable to make it’s way into the photos I take of them.

And it all feels different to me, instant vs. dgital vs. roll film. Instant shots feel more like the moments I took them in. There’s a definite story to them, and the details are as unpredictable as life. I never know what could go wrong with the lighting, or if the colors will have an unexpected hue, and I do appreciate that bit of input from the film itself. Digital doesn’t let the sun glow like film can, though it can let me work through ideas. And roll film, specifically medium format, makes me take my me think harder about what I’m doing. I don’ develop film myself just yet, so that’s 12 shots I won’t see again for at least a week. I haven’t yet worked out how to I see things through the Mamiya just yet.

So far, instant is where I live.

Any personal projects we should know about?

 I’m not a big fan of photographing anything other than people, so to push myself I did a Kickstarter project where I took photographs of places and things once a day, everyday for the months of June and July. If you’d like to keep up with it you can check the updates page daily (sometimes I’m really late):

What other photographers do you look up too?

As I mentioned, I’ve been following Lou O’bedlam for a few years on Flickr. I also love and learn from Parker Fitzgerald, Nirrimi Firebrace, Zia Khan, Jon Duenas, Ryan Muirhead, Katarina Smuraga, Matt Fry, and at least a dozen other photographers that I’ll never be as good, which makes me happy because I’ll always have people to learn from/look up to.

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

Remember every shot that doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to. Everyone of those failures will teach you how to fail less. The lesson will really stick because each one of those failures cost you time, money, and the object you wanted to see on film.

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

I get ideas from the work of other photographers I see, or just day dreams of different things sometimes, but my main inspiration is the women I meet. Sometimes different individuals see my work online and contact me, but I am always seeking out someone that I feel compelled to photograph. Everyone is different, every person is a story you’ve never heard before, and I want to hear the most interesting ones. I want to see personalities, and fall into the photographs they inspire.


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