The sea just makes everything better, doesn’t it?
The sea just makes everything better, doesn’t it?
There are bruishes on my legs, scratches from when I walked through the bushes in the forest and the trees with their branches caught me and held on. There are mosquito bites too and two, very small red marks from where the ticks got me. Half-healed scratches on my hands.
My knees are the brownest I have seen them in years, even if that doesn’t say a lot and for a few days my hair, my skin smelled of saltwater and the sun.
As a photographer, I have realised that opportunity and timing is everything.
Of course, you can often make sure that you seek out those opportunities and that you are in the right place at the right time through careful planning and a large portion of patience. In other words, you make sure to be on location and ready to shoot for the golden hour when the light is warm and the shadows soft. Or you sit quietly in the grass as a bumblebee flies in and out of the small opening of the purple, bell shaped foxglove, to capture just the right moment before it disappears inside it, when the wings are standing almost still.
But to be honest, sometimes I have just been lucky. Or perhaps lucky is a wrong word to use, because it’s also about being able to see the opportunity of what could potentially be a really wonderful shot.
When I recently travelled home to Denmark, I suddenly found myself standing at my local train station at just the right moment. I was standing on the platform waiting for a train and as I looked around, I suddenly saw something and I just knew; this was the shot I had been waiting for.
The station had been renovated since the last time I was home and instead of a large, solid block of a building in the middle of the platform, they had put in new glass walls and skylight windows, which in the harsh, direct overheard noon sunlight on that Saturday created the most magnificent shadows and patterns on the platform ground. There were several layers of light, shadows and transparency and it completely transformed that dreary, gloomy station that I have been stood waiting at for so many years, while I grew up in this town. For a few moments, it turned the station into a place of magic.
If I hadn’t happened to have been there at noon, when the sunlight of that June day was directly overhead and not obscured by any clouds, the shadows would have been elongated and extended, reaching the ground at an angle instead of imprinting directly onto the concrete from above, illuminating perfect squares of light and shadow. If the temperature hadn’t been a perfect 20 degrees celsius, it would not have created the right tonal colours I was after. And if my train hadn’t had 6 minutes to arrive, I would not have had time to unpack my Polaroid camera, position myself at just the right spot to get the right composition and take the time to breathe out for a second, before making sure I captured the light exactly as my mind had already envisioned the shot.
I did not seek out or plan this moment. It came to me at an unexpected time and for that reason I treasure this photograph and the memory of it even more.
But that said, shooting with instant film has become a very careful and selective process for me. Because of the expensive price of film, I only take pictures of those moments I really want to capture for the future and of those motives that have been ideas in my mind for a very long time. So different from the mindless shooting I am guilty of doing sometimes with my smartphone camera or even when I use my digital SLR and don’t have to think about the price of film or getting the shot right with the first click. It has made me so much more conscious of what I want to capture and how. And even more importantly, why.
I wanted to share some of the moments I have been capturing for the last couple of months since I wrote my post on the first Polaroids I took:
In February I was home on holiday in Denmark to spend some time with my family. We also went to our cabin in Sweden, where I took this shot one cold morning. The landscape looked pretty dull when we arrived but when I opened my eyes the morning after, I instantly knew from the light reflected inside the house that something had changed; that snow had fallen suddenly and surprisingly overnight. I know that the Impossible Project instant film doesn’t do very well in cold weather but I still went out in wellies and my pyjamas to capture the snow while it lay untouched outside.
If you read my Christmas post you will know that my boyfriend gave me a Polaroid Spectra camera for Christmas. I was so excited and a bit awestruck about finally owning my own instant camera and it has really inspired my creativity and given me lots of fresh ideas for new photo projects. Almost every night I go to bed with some new idea of a picture I want to take, how I can use my camera or how I can turn my polaroids into special art projects.
I have already used up my first pack of film and I have fallen in love with analog instant photography. I have also discovered that it’s surprisingly hard to take those perfect polaroids you might see in photobooks or online. So many things can go wrong and unlike digital photography the film is very sensitive to light and temperature, so it feels as if I’ve had to learn to photograph all over again.
So what makes it so different from the way I normally photograph?
The Polaroid camera is very different from my Canon 1000D DSLR. It’s more simple and have only a few settings, making it harder for me to be in control of the process. I can’t see the image on a screen before the polaroid comes out and the colours of the film ink, while a gorgeous dreamy and vintage-like tint, mean that everything looks very different from what I see through my own eyes. All of this means that the result of the final polaroids becomes more accidental and more of an experiment but as I am learning to accept and even love, the accidental aspect is what makes it exciting, as you never really know what the polaroid will turn out like!
Another difference is that the film is very expensive; you only get 8 shots in a pack for £17. As the polaroids come out straight away there is no way to delete my photo if it comes out wrong. But the preciousness of each shot has meant that I think twice about what I want to photograph and if the image is really worth spending a film on. Instead of mindlessly shooting away, I now take my time to think about why a subject interests me, what I want to capture or find special about it and how I can achieve that through how I frame, compose and light my shot. It has made me more selective and critical, and I hope it will help me to become more critical of my digital photography, too.
In an age where so much of our lives are lived and recorded digitally, there is something really magical and nostalgic about analog film; clicking a button, hearing the whirring of the camera, seeing the print come out and waiting to see the blue-colored polaroid slowly develop into shapes and colours. Instant analog film is making me fall in love with photography all over again, as if I am discovering it for the first time.
So I thought I would share my new love with you and show how some of my first polaroids have turned out like.
This was my first attempt to take a creative photo. I found this little hidden path tucked away in a park and really liked the creepyness of it but I don’t think it really came out in the photo. I don’t know why light stripes have appeared and while my boyfriend claims it makes the photograph “unique” I think it slightly ruins the photo a little bit, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist.