This year we tried a new approach to fending off the winter blues: we spent a few days over New Year in Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa. It’s directly due south of Britain, so there’s no jet lag. You can fly there on a low-cost carrier. But because it’s closer to the equator, the days are much longer: the sun didn’t set until after 6pm! It was wonderful to experience not just sun, but so much light, in the depths of winter. It was a bit windy at times (the island is a mecca for windsurfers) but we enjoyed swimming in the lagoon, exploring the crags and dunes of the landscape and eating tapas (the Canary Islands are technically part of Spain). And, of course, taking pictures. With a new camera to play with, I embarked on a photo adventure: Photoventura in Fuerteventura!
My new camera was a Christmas present from my husband: a Leica Sofort, which is the Leica version of the Instax Mini camera (and takes the same film). On previous trips I’ve sometimes made Polaroid collages. Here’s one I made in Aldeburgh, where I spent my birthday weekend in 2012, and took pictures of everyone who came to celebrate.
And here’s one I did in Crete later that year. But doing Polaroid collages is fiddly, for a couple of reasons. Polaroid cameras are quite bulky to carry around, and can be quite temperamental, so you don’t necessarily want to take them everywhere with you on a foreign trip. You also have to handle the Impossible film very carefully, both before and after exposure which can be especially tricky if the weather is too hot or cold.
But the Instax process is much more straightforward, and Instax cameras are much more compact and reliable. So, Leica Sofort in hand, I decided to make an instant-photo collage of my trip to Fuerteventura. I wanted to capture the colours and shapes, the majesty of the island’s rugged terrain, and the overall mood of our magical trip, which took us from freezing London to swimsuits and snorkels on sandy beaches. In other words, a mood board, but made up of my own, real-life images. Each day I enjoyed adding new pictures to my slowly expanding collage. Now that we’re back, I can hardly believe we went. But I have my collage, with its bright blues and whites, to remind me. And I suspect I’ll be doing more of these collages on foreign trips in future. Much as I love Polaroids, the combination of the Leica with Instax film is a lot less messing around.