I know it has been a few weeks since we have had an Artist Spotlight on the blog. We have interviews out to people, so we will have some great Spotlights coming up in the next few weeks. 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!
Today on the blog we are featuring Susanne Klosterman. Susanne is from Münster, a city in western Germany, just a short drive from the Dutch border. Working at the local university, she teaches integration courses where migrants and refugees learn German. We came across Susanne during Polaroid week and loved her use of expired film and Impossible emulsion lifts. Please be sure to check out her social media links.
How did you get into instant photography?
I fell in love with instant photography when I saw the beautiful works of others on the internet. At that time I mostly shot medium format with my Holga and a simple TLR camera. So I bought a Polaroid 420 Land Camera and tried my first film.
And then miracles happened! I still remember the big smile on my face when I managed to tear the photo out of the camera. And when it had developed, I looked at it with another huge smile. That’s how it is: instant photography makes me happy … and apparently everybody else around me.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
Oh, difficult question, I love them all! But you can imagine that the Polaroid 420 is still one of my favorites. It’s a solid camera and, as you might know, you never forget your first love! My second camera I found on Ebay, it was a Polaroid 1000 Deluxe, very simple one, but always working, no quirks at all and it really shows good results … at least in bright sunlight. Additionally there is my SX-70, such a beauty with a wonderful sharp lens, but with some quirks from time to time.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
Once I saw an exhibition with the Polaroids of Julian Schnabel. He has this very big camera, 20 x 24 inch. Crazy! I’d love to see an artist working with that camera and then I would love to ask him, if I could shoot a picture of my dog. Is it true that there are only six cameras of this type?
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
I love all expired Polaroid films, especially the 669. Impossible’s PX 70 (color shade and color protection) was adorable once I had got used to its quirks. I am also really happy with the new B & W 2.0.
How have you incorporated instant film to your regular workflow?
I shoot instant film when I want to create dreamlike or surrealistic scenes with a special atmosphere. My other analog cameras are gathering dust in the corner right now. Instant film has become the main subject of my artistic expression. But anyway, I also have a DSLR which I use when I travel, for family situations and so on.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography?
Instant film makes me slow down and concentrate on the here and now. It also connects me with nature, light and winds and the temperature around me, because all these things can have effects on the film. I love the unpredictability and the simplicity of instant photography. I use Polaroid cameras for situations, places and moods which are precious to me, not for daily photography. Another aspect that really attracts me are the myriads of creative possibilties, for example, I love to do emulsion lifts. I want to try out more creative techniques, I feel there is so much more to explore!
Any personal subject we should know about?
I want to do a photography project with my students in the integration course. I’m not quite sure about the subject, maybe “identity” should play a role in it. Let’s see what my students will suggest, I’m curious about their ideas. My plan is to do this project on instant film.
What other photographers do you look up to?
I adore the Polaroid work of Stefanie Schneider. And in the Flickr community there are so many wonderful and talented instant photographers. I also admire the work of Gregory Crewdson, Wim Wenders, Stephen Shore, Saul Leiter and many others. I can spend hours in a book store and browse in the books of amazing artists. Oh, and I want to mention Pieter Hugo from South Africa. The photographs in his book “The Hyena & other men” deeply impressed me.
What advice would you give someone just getting into instant photography?
Be patient and don’t give up after the first pack of film with disappointing results. You, your camera and the film – you have to become a team and that needs time. Experiment as much as you can. And talk to others about your new hobby – you will get good advice from the old hands and big smiles from the others.
Where does your inspiration come from?
This is the most difficult question. I think my inspiration mainly comes from places. I love to be in “empty” and limitless landscapes. The sea, the shores are such places and many of my Polaroids are shot there. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of something in a daily situation and this gives me the idea for a photo. Or the name of a place stimulates my imagination, then I try to go there and see/feel what’s going to happen. It can also be a line in a song or in a text I read. I do not force it. That’s why there are sometimes longer periods when I do not shoot any Polaroid. But that’s ok. For me it’s like in this quotation from Ramana Maharshi: “Let come what comes, let go what goes, see what remains.”