Feature Post | Me & You, 52

Today we feature a mobile-only/instant film weekly project spearheaded by Anika Toro. Entering it’s seventh round, Me & You, 52 brings together the work of mobile and instant film photographers week after week. It’s a wonderful collaborative effort featuring a lot of talent, so I asked Anika to pick some of her favorite submissions for this round, featuring works printed on Impossible Film, using the Instant Lab. Anika was also kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.

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We love to feature projects like this and others involving instant film. Do you have an instant film project  or perhaps a set of instant film travel photos or a documentary set you’d like to share? Send us an email and we’ll be sure to be in touch. In the meantime, grab your morning coffee or tea and read on to find out more about Me & You, 52!

Website | Instagram (#meandyou52) | Participants

 

Tell us about the Me & You, 52 project How did it come about?

I had become “friends” with Christy {@urbanmuser} via blogging and our mutual love for writing and photography. I think we discovered the excitement of mobile photography at the same time…  This was about 5 years ago and mobile imagery was still something very new. We both seemed to drift away from blogging and our priorities seemed to shift around the same time.  But we both still wanted to create, collaborate, and experiment with mobile photography. Plus, what better way to stay friends than through something creative?!  So we decided to start a little side project and called it Me & You.  We planned on making a new image every week for a year and see where that lead us.  We chose to use the letters of the alphabet to guide our journey. So for 52 weeks we followed a list of pre-determined words and joined the resulting images in the form of diptychs.

When and why did you decide to introduce instant film to this initially mobile-only project?

When the Impossible Project came out with the Instant Lab I was so excited. Combining mobile imagery and instant film?! Yes! It made sense. If M&Y is about showcasing what mobile photography can achieve; if it’s about our love for everything mobile, how could we not??

How were users selected for this project round after round?

After our first year, we agreed that it would be interesting to involve more people. We thought it would be great to see how we all envision the same inspiration in our own unique ways. At the time we had a Flickr page and we chose a few photographers that had been submitting to our group. They had a distinct viewpoint and style, had a passion for mobile photography, and also wanted the personal challenge of coming up with something new every week. 

For the last couple of rounds, I have chosen most of our groups additions via Instagram. I think I also looked for Instant Lab users in the Impossible App gallery. I picked people that I have admired and wanted to collaborate with, people who have a strong style, unique eye, and a desire to produce work using just their phones. I also wanted to combine people living in various locations around the world. I think I was curious what, if anything, being from opposite sides of the globe or different coastlines would do to the work. It really impresses me how often we end up producing work that seems planned, meant for the other half of the diptych. Shadows start meeting with shadows, out of all the colors in the world two people end up using the exact same ones, use the same exact apps…it’s magical. To me, some images almost seems incomplete without their partner. Yes we all come from different backgrounds and experiences but sometimes we envision almost the very same thing.

How can others participate in the project?

The more the merrier! All of us agree that the project is more fun when many people participate. We encourage participation from anyone. And we only have one rule – Images must be taken and edited only using a mobile device. {And can also be printed via the Instant Lab. I would love to see some instant lab submissions in the pool!} People can tag their images in Instagram using “#meandyou52” to play along. Simply shoot with that week’s theme in mind and then tag your image. {Future prompts can always be found on our website.} At the end of the week I will sometimes partner up various images into diptychs and post them in our feed. With permission I will sometimes also include the diptych on our website as a guest post. The more interpretations we have, the more room for the perfect story to be told. There have been a few weeks when I have partnered two of our member’s images only to change them up last minute and partner them with better suited images from the #meandyou52 pool. We all love seeing what stories can happen by connecting two random images. Serendipity – it’s a pretty amazing thing.

What is planned for the future of the Me & You, 52 project?

In keeping with all things mobile-related I am excited to be adding in the Instax Share!  Again, it just makes sense.  The ability to create immediate prints from a mobile device can be very inspiring.  The idea is that {since the images are much more narrow} the submissions from the Instax Share will be from one author in the form of a triptych.  I’m pretty giddy to see what will come from this.

The other thing we are going to be adding are 4 writers.  Yes, the project has always been based in our love for mobile art {and now instant/mobile art} but during this last round the narratives seemed to intensify.  I don’t know if it was just me looking at things differently or if the new round of artists were just meshing in a different way but things connected in very literal ways.  It got me thinking- what would the addition of text do to the narrative?  I chose 4 people to start us off and test the waters.  Two of them are poets and two of them I think would refer to themselves as photographers rather than writers.  I chose them for this very reason.  The way in which all of them use words is already very visual I think.  I am hopeful that in each of their own ways they will connect {again in that serendipitous way} to enhance two images, imply new meaning to the presented story, or have the images begging for more information.  We will see!

What are some of your favorite mobile editing apps to use with photos you’ll be printing on the Instant Lab?

I usually create the image as I normally do. Certain images seem to lend themselves better to the Instant Lab so I will print those. I do like using a graphic app such as DecoSketch though. It seems to add an element to an instant image that makes it seem quite wonderous. I like adding or removing subtle things from an image that make the final instant image possible only because of mobile apps. That said, the film I use in the Instant Lab seems to have some issues with contrast and saturation at least for my personal taste. Nothing against the film! I am very happy to have it. But to create an image that is less saturated, very low contrast {or vice versa depending on the film} I use editing apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and Photoshop-they’re very handy.

Being that  you have used the Instant Lab quite a bit, any tips or tricks you would like to share?

Honestly, I feel like I am still very much in the learning phase.  The Impossible film is still not consistent enough for me to know a lot of tricks.  Just when I think I am onto something I am proven wrong.  I tend to like the 600 films for my mobile images- the blacks seem richer and the color more reliable to work with.  I am quite fond of the B&W 600 film- it’s predictable.  But I would say experiment!  Two of my favorite images I have made with the machine were by experimenting with the height of the bellows and by using multiple exposures to achieve a desired exposure rather than just changing the exposure time through the Impossible App.  I have learned a lot from the other Instant Lab members in regards to exposure times and how and when to shift colors.  In terms of stability and development times, like with my days in the darkroom, I use times as guidelines but still choose to go with my gut.  That’s horrible advice, I know.  But maybe there is something to be said for what is learned through mistakes, failures, and trial/error…it’s a more expensive road but I think it enables one to roll with unexpected things like your phone slipping during exposure or like selecting the wrong exposure setting – “Happy little accidents!”  Plus, for me, a big part of the fun with any aspect of photography {film or otherwise} is experimentation.  Much like with mobile photography, I am still figuring out all I can do with this camera.

After several rounds of Me & You, 52 how do you keep yourself and other participants motivated and inspired? 

Coming up with something new every week for a year is a challenge! Over the last few rounds I have noticed a cycle – we all tend to feel the pressure around the letter “P” or “Q”. I check in every so often to make sure everyone is happy but I will be honest, it’s not for everyone. Some don’t make it through the round. This has been a great group. They are full of community, dedicated to the project, and always seem up for a challenge! I think that we all recognize that we would not be producing much of the work we make if it were not for this project. Plus, working with creative and talented people really pushes us all to make something out of our comfort zones, to make something a step past what we would settle with. Being aware that our image HAS to be made or that week will leave someone high and dry keeps us from failing at our commitment to each other, to the project, and to ourselves. The results are often satisfying and inspiring enough to keep pushing us through. But I do try and remind us of what our purpose is and why it’s fun… That intentional creating is a truly valuable thing. Then I cross my fingers and hope we are all happy. I feel really lucky to be able to be a part of this with them all. They are inspiring. Honestly, I think that even though I make the connections and set things up, I play a minor role in terms of how things play out. This is a very personal project for each of us and once a week we see how that personal journey connects with another’s. When we see our images joined up and when things connect…well, that’s enough magic to keep us all trying for another.

 

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the feature!! Love this project and am excited to spread the word 🙂

  2. Anika, great interview! So proud to be a part of this collaboration with you.

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