In 2019–“before pandemic” times–I set aside my instant film cameras for a time and spent more of my creative energy using several different 35mm cameras I had on hand. I was up for a new challenge and wanted to experiment in a different way.
At the beginning of this year, however, I felt a tug back toward instant film. Winter is never the best time to shoot instant (at least for me, in a colder climate) as the somewhat quirky film has definite heat and cold sensitivities, and performs best with strong natural light.
But I wanted to be ready for the coming months! I checked the film drawer in my refrigerator (you have one of those, right?) to see how the instant film supply was faring. I located, amongst the rolls of 35mm, a few boxes of the (discontinued) Fuji pack film, but surprisingly, no Polaroid film. So, I placed an order for a few packs of SX-70 film, stashed them away, and waited.
With lengthening days, more sunlight and fresh blooms all around, it was finally time to scout subjects for my new packs of film. I carefully placed my camera in the car, so I’d be ready. The magnolias are a favorite of mine, so of course I had to stop for this shot.
A trip to the local arboretum was a little early in the season; most of the trees were still dormant, the paths muddy and brown. But toward the end of my hike, I spied these lovelies. Down on my knees in the wet grass, I was able to capture these woodland blooms.
Grocery store blooms are fair game, right? While waiting for more to appear in my neighborhood, a trip to my local Trader Joe’s satisfied my need to have fresh-cut flowers in the house.
One aspect of instant film that I love is the dreamy quality it gives to even the most ordinary subjects. The slight shift in colors, the sensitivity to the slightest movement as you press the shutter (hello, blurry tulips!) and the surprises you see as the film develops are all part of the enjoyment. I allowed myself to just play, shooting through nearly two packs of film.
I even took time to set up a few still life shots without florals. It would be fun to expand on this theme with other found objects from nature…another idea for future forays!
Now that I’ve dipped my toes back into instant film, I plan to keep my camera handy and seek out more ways to use these tools. Sometimes returning to old favorites can be a way to breathe new life into a creative practice.
What are you doing to jump-start your creativity these days?