I first bought an Instax 8 mini pink camera after following a feeling, the good points: it’s affordable at £60 cheaper than others, they come in pastel and bright colours, it has settings from indoor to very bright sunlight and super flash. The bad points: you can’t turn flash off and it’s bulky to hold or have in your bag.
Each Instax film gives you 10 shots, it can be pricey at £10 a film though you can get deals eg. £15 for 20 shots, £40 for 30 shots etc. BUY MORE FILM IN THE BEGINNING is best tip. I’m not suggesting you spend hundreds of money on bulk film but buy a few at least as you will use up a lot just practising with the settings, messing up the light exposures, and it’s no fun to play around when your on a strict film limit either, its all part of letting go and playing.
I upgraded to Polaroid 90 within a week of getting my Instax 8, and though it was double the price at £120 it was worth it. Good points: It has a rechargeable battery, you can turn the flash off – this was my number one reason as I was finding I wanted to take pictures inside cafes and such though the flash would go off and highlight the fact I was taking a photo. No one uses cameras with flash and they draw more attention to you when your trying to take a subtle photo. The different digital modes are useful though I’m still playing around with them, so far I’ve experimented and liked the light-dark features, portrait mode and self timer.
Other great learning experiences with a Polaroid so far:
There have been instances where I really wish I had taken a photo and not seized the moment, two times stand out such as a friends wedding a her walking into the venue in a beautiful red and gold dress, her arms adorned with bangles and another was walking a different route and in the distance a tall crane and in front of me a couple walking and holding hands. The photo opportunity just seemed too good to be true and I missed it.
This was when I had the camera with a flash so I felt shy around the reaction a big FLASH would bring although realistically people may not of even noticed. I’d go over those times and re play them and feel annoyed with myself ‘Why??!’ It’s a good reminder and lesson that if you want to capture something, take the damn photo.If not then just appreciate being there, the memory.
It’s all learning and I enjoy looking back over moments I’ve taken a picture anyway despite nerves or environment, such as taking natural shots of friends or when the Latin Funk band are playing on a Saturday night in a bar/club in town – that let out a big flash and the singer just smiled. It’s all part of relaxing into being an artist anytime anywhere.
Polaroid cameras teach you to be mindful and playful as before you take any photo you quickly check the settings, look through the eye hole and press the button. This is easily done and easily forgotten too. On the Instax 8 mini as it is a dial above the lens, many first shots were accidentally taken in home mode when it was bright and sunny and the figure I was taking a picture of was too bright. Changing the settings is something people forget now as when you take a picture on your phone you just tap and it’s done, there is an up and a down to both ways.
As I said earlier more film allows for more playing and learning, especially with the Instax 90 as the ‘D for Darker’ mode will bring things out more on a really sunny day, as does L and L+ when the area is darker, then there’s self portrait mode which I explored one afternoon recently and double exposure mode too. Playing with these modes when relaxed and curiously exploring will allow quick change to them in busier environments where you want to capture a moment quickly. It also makes you more playful and flexible in taking chances which Anne Mae K mentions in her top 5 tips.
Polaroid film really does capture the essence of NOW, nothing beats real film.The nostalgia, the colours, it’s wonderful. It feels like an art form in itself with a personal twist, you capture life, your day, your journey, telling people ”Wait let me just get my Polaroid camera…’ or ‘Can I get a picture of you on my camera…It’s a Polaroid?’
Storing and organising your photos and making them into a project is part of the fun too, at the moment I clip my newest ones onto a string on the wall before I scan them, then when they have been scanned I put them into a mini Polaroid album (I liked the ones with space for a photo on the front as it introduces the album). These hold over 60 photos, have clear slots for them to go in so are protected.
I put captions on most of them onto the white space under the photo, I don’t see many others doing it and I get why as ‘a picture speaks 1000 words’ though I like to include a part of that moment whether it be a mantra, advice told to me, a place etc as a storytelling aspect I can expand on what the photo is about and giver the viewer something more. This will probably change and I may go caption less at some point. I also keep the bed/learning experience photos separate by my art supplies to go over where I went wrong or use them in artworks.
There are so many fabulous ways to display Polaroid photos, some people put them in scrapbooks, then there’s project life and travel journals – it’s endless in it’s creativity. Ideally I’m looking to display them in mini plastic sleeves and a painting along side as well as online too. As with most of my projects I’m not sure where or how far they will go, I just show up and move forward.
Once scanned my photos go into my projects, in a gallery called Trust and Love in Polaroids which you can view here. This is an ongoing project through 2017 where I share moments of my unfolding journey and caption them with a feeling, mantra, advice or other wisdom.