#NeonNights with Toby Hancock


Just recently, Impossible hosted a Twitter chat with “King of the Night,” Toby Hancock. We’re big fans of Toby’s instant film photography – no doubt many of us would recognize it immediately. Toby’s night photography on Impossible instant film features lots of neon sign found in and around Los Angeles. During this Twitter chat, Toby shared his knowledge, tips and tricks so we can all try our hand at night photography. Below, a quick recap of the Twitter #neonnights chat with Impossible and Toby. If you missed the chat, hopefully these tips will help you try and succeed at night photography using Impossible instant films. When it comes down to it, the best way to find out what works, is to experiment by going out and shooting at night then noting what works best with the environment and camera you are shooting.

Toby is always sharing great photos on social media, so make sure you are following him!

Twitter | Flickr | Instagram

Next Exit Mission Road

So, what camera does Toby recommend for night shooting?

You need a folding Polaroid to really take advantage of night shooting I have used the Spectra at night. I love it for multiple neon exposures I have both SX70s & SLR680s. I only shoot with the film appropriate to the camera Toby’s thoughts on film for night shooting? I think someone asked whether the latest test films were good for night shooting – YES! I prefer 600 for shooting neon as it’s faster & can pretty much be shot with the dial at neutral. I usually use a tripod, but when shooting neon with 600 film, I occasionally go hand held.  


Some of Toby’s notes on exposure:

Where I set the dial depends on the amount of light in the scene &/or what effect I’m trying to achieve
I’ll sometimes dial 600 film a little to dark.
For extra long exposures (star trails), press shutter button & open film door Close door & press button again to finish exposure.
Neon is very bright light source. Green neon (neon & argon) is very difficult to shoot.
I don’t usually cover the electronic eye, but I have on occasion.
Exposure depends very much on the film type & amount & type of light in the scene.I usually dial SX70 film to light.
One of the bonuses of shooting after dark is that there’s no need to shield the film.

Toby also mentioned that how long he holds the shutter open, “depends on the film being used – 600 is very fast, like daylight exposure. SX70 film is usually a little longer. 600 film is Literally like a daylight shot – press the shutter button & the photo ejects immediately.

Original Tommy's

Toby also shared how he stores film:
I use PrintFile pages, 35-8P for reg Polaroids & pack film, 45-8P for Spectra

Get out there and try your hand at #neonnights! We have also noted that Toby makes pretty good annotations on the photos he shares, so take note and that might definitely help you out. Be sure to share your night photos with us by uploading to the Snap It See It flickr group, tagging us on Twitter and tag your photos #snapitseeit on Instagram. Thanks Impossible for hosting this chat and also a big thank you to Toby for chatting with all of us!



  1. Diane Durant says:

    Hi Toby. Diane Durant here! Do you remember me? Just thinking of the laughs Nick and I had with you and the gang when we lived in LA back in the 80’s. Love your work!! Would be great to hear from you again. Lots of love. dianedurant@hotmail.com

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