Artist Spotlight: Troy Bradford

Troy Bradford - Header Photo Polaroid 690 600SE Welcome back to our weekly Artist Spotlight feature. If you are new to the blog, this is the day we shine the light on people doing awesome things with instant film. This weeks featured artist, Troy Bradford, hails from Greenville, Texas. His 8×10 work first caught our eye, but he’s not a one trick pony. Using a mix of pack film, expired Polaroid and Impossible films, Troy captures the worl and people around himself beautifully. See more at the following links.

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

I always feel like such a nerd when I have to tell people about myself.  Hello, my name is Troy Bradford. I live in Greenville, Texas; which is about 40 minutes from downtown Dallas. I have a beautiful wife, two daughters that I absolutely adore, a grand daughter that is the light of my life (ie. the most willing to be photographed) and a son-in-law that bleeds creativity (and also loves photography). My interest in photography revolves around taking photos of all of the people closest to me and documenting our lives together. For my profession, I am a project engineer at an aerospace company in the area. So I really am a nerd, minus the pocket protector of course. Some good things about my job is that it pays for my hobbies (taking photos & collecting cameras and photo books) and I get to travel around the US on business which always seems to give me opportunities to photograph around the city that I am visiting. Photography has been a prominent part of my life since I bought my first camera in the 7th grade; which was around 1981. That being said, I assume that I am older than most of the people that read this blog. Let’s just say that I am young at heart…

 

How did you get into instant photography?

I grew up in the prime of Polaroid during the late 70s and early 80s. I have vivid memories, and many Polaroids to prove it, of just about every Christmas morning. Each of the kids would always get a pack or more of Polaroid film and shoot it all that morning. After I got my first Nikon film camera, I pretty much left Polaroid and instant film behind. A little over two years ago, my son-in-law bought a Polaroid 600 box camera at a garage sale for 25 cents. We split an order of film from The Impossible Project and both shot a pack. Neither of us got the best results, but something about the film just hooked us. Many packs of film and cameras later, there is no way I can stop now. My only regret is that I missed all of the years during the 80s, 90s and early 2000 when Polaroid was readily available.

What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?

Not an easy question for a guy who can’t make up his mind. I sometimes wish that I could settle on one camera and just sell all the rest. BTW, that will never happen. I would have to answer this question with multiple cameras.

My overall favorite camera is the SX-70. Being an engineer, this camera is fascinating to me. When it was originally released, it had to be so far ahead of its time. It amazes me to think that this design was created in a time without any computers. It is the easiest camera to travel with, but one of the most delicate when you drop it. I have way too much experience with what happens when you drop the SX-70. Probably my favorite instant photo ever was taken with an SX-70 camera while on travel in Los Angeles, CA.

My most used camera is my Polaroid 600SE. I say that because it is the one that I most often leave in my car and it is the one that I use for most of my photos at home. It is just not the most idea camera to travel with. If you’ve ever held one, you will know that it is a beast.

Lastly, my most unique camera and therefore the one that I love to talk about is my Toyo 8×10 view camera. I never envisioned myself ever shooting such a camera. Shortly after Impossible came out with the 8×10 film, I met a couple of fellow instant photographers in the Dallas area (Justin Goode and Steve Reeves). They introduced me to shooting this film and I became obsessed with finding a camera. It is a camera that I only occasionally use, but when I do I always get chills when the image is removed from the processor. I can’t ever imagine getting tired of seeing 8×10 instant photos.

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

Once you’ve shot 8×10, there is only one camera to strive for and that is the 20×24. Probably unrealistic, but a guy’s got to have dreams you know…

A more realistic camera that I can’t wait to try is the upcoming Impossible camera. I would LOVE to be one of their beta testers with this camera (hint, hint…).

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

My favorite Impossible film is and probably always will be the PX70 Cool Film. I so wish that they would produce another batch of this film. Shielding was never a problem for me. To me it became part of shooting integral film. The colors, light leaks and imperfections of this film made it so unique that I just couldn’t get enough. I still have a couple of packs that Anne sent me late last year. I plan on using them on an upcoming photo trip to the desert.

My favorite packfilm is the FP-3000B. This film in the Polaroid 600SE rocks my instant world. It’s my go-to film for indoor family shots.

How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?

Workflow? Do hobbyist have workflows?

Actually, I almost always look for opportunities to use my instant cameras when I’m shooting. I have got to the point where I would rather have an solid instant shot over a digital image any day. After using instant cameras for two years, I’ve finally gotten better at knowing when the instant shots will and will not work. If I see it won’t work, I go for the digital camera.

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

Whether instant or digital, my vision is always to create an image that stops a moment in time and captures it on the film or digital media. To build on that, I strive to create something with a story. I love looking at and showing my images, but more than that I love telling the story around/about the image. I hope my memory never fails, because I never want to forget the stories.

Any personal projects we should know about?

My blogs have been my personal projects for the past few years. Of course I will continue these. One of my goals for the near term is to take 8×10 Impossible images of as many of my family members as possible. I want to see how far I can take this. Distant cousins and aunt/uncles is where I am aiming.

What other photographers do you look up too?

Because there are so many, it doesn’t even seem fair to mention any. I would say that my latest passion/fascination has been collecting photo books and studying the methods of capturing specific photos. The book Hard Ground is one of my favorites.

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

Frustration from failures drives you to be a better photographer. Use instant photography to help with this.

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

If it is capturing a moment with my family, then the inspiration finds me and I just grab a camera.

When the family is not involved, I often do not know what I want to shoot. I just know that I want to capture something. When I get that way, I drive or walk around until I find the inspiration. It happens this way a lot when I am on travel or just bored at home.

Comments

  1. Great spotlight! Troy is such an inspiration 🙂 His portraits are amazing.

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