I fell in love with film when I was in high school. I was lucky enough to be taught in the darkroom, reciting aperture and shutter speeds as a class for hours and fumbling around in the dark trying to find the test strip I just dropped. It was a place where my passion for art grew, as it was where I encountered Man Ray, which led to Dada and Surrealism and the whole world of art, which lead to me taking a major in art history at uni. For my project on Man Ray I had to create some work inspired by his style, so I chose photograms.
A photogram was the first thing we made in my photography class. Our teacher led us into the darkroom, paired us up around the enlargers and told us to take whatever we had in our pockets out and to put it on the sheet of paper and expose it. Everyone had their own photogram on day 1. So when I saw Man Ray’s ‘rayographs’ I saw how diverse the method could be, with interesting and surreal results awaiting me.
I have to admit, I didn’t push it too far and as a fifteen year old girl I only had access to certain items – jewellery, magazines, old toys. But at the time I was pretty pleased with the results, and so was my teacher. At the end of my high school life they were knocking out the darkroom to make a second digital studio, and my heart broke. I was the only one who was actually using it for film by this point, everyone else in the class was in there to listen to music, make out or just skip doing any work entirely. It was a shame, I learnt so much about photography by starting from a photogram, moving to a pinhole with a coffee tin and then finally to an SLR. I have some prints from my time in school which I’ll share in a different post, and although they aren’t all amazing photographs or photograms they are prints I will cherish because we all have to start somewhere.
CAMERA: Polaroid i-Zone
FILM: i-Zone Instant Film
When I found an old zip-lock bag full of little photos I realised that the Polaroid SX-70 was not my first film camera, it was actually the Polaroid i-Zone which I think was given to me for a birthday or Christmas. I didn’t have a fancy looking one, it was just the standard light and dark blue with the yellow shutter button.
Looking at the photos, of which I only have 20, I remember how bad the camera was at outdoor shots, either over- or under-exposed, as it was really best for indoor use with flash. Most of the photos are of my family, although for some reason I thought it was a good idea to take a photo of my messy bedroom floor and get too close to my pet mouse in its blue cage. My favourite photo is of one of our dogs, Fugly, a beautiful boxer who died after getting bitten by dugite.
I actually got so nostalgic when I found these photos that I went on eBay and bought a cheap i-Zone camera, mine lost long ago, and some film that didn’t work. I didn’t spend much on it so I might try and hack it to take some other kind of film in the future, if I can be bothered getting around to it.
So here began my interest in instant film, rekindled many years later with a better camera.
Throw your minds back to 2007, and how difficult it was to buy anything online in Australia. Now imagine that you are 16 and don’t have a credit card but you really want this weird plastic camera that sounds like it was named after a Swedish milkmaid. That was me, looking to get a Holga from Lomography.
There was one Lomography shop in Australia at the time, and no stockists in Perth. I had to PRINT a form, fill it out with my mum’s credit card details and POST it over to Sydney, then wait for my first film camera to arrive. I had used the 35mm SLR’s at school, even my teacher’s precious Mamiya to get a taste for 120 film, but this one I could take with me anywhere and really get into using film.
It arrived, I put in the film that came with it and got shooting immediately. I had no idea what I was doing but it was great to get the film back full of overlapping frames and multiple exposures.
I haven’t always reached for my Holga, opting instead for easier to use and develop 35mm cameras, but I’ve come back to it ten years later and still love it.
CAMERA: Holga 120 CFN
FILM: Fuji Velvia 100
Shot & developed in July 2007