In a world plastered with sleek, sterile advertising imagery, where even point and shoot cameras are overcomplicated and printing/storing photos requires some amount of computer skill and file management, instant film cameras are a refreshing way to get back to TRUE POINT AND SHOOT PHOTOGRAPHY.
We were all convinced that digital cameras had finally satisfied our craving for instant gratification but when you shoot instant film, there is not only instant feedback, but there’s an instant RESULT, and, perhaps more critical to the enjoyment of instant photography, there’s an unmatchable experience that combines the addicting thrill of releasing the shutter as a beautiful scene unfolds in front of the eye, with an in-moment anticipation of your rendering of that scene being born out of the blank white canvas of an integral film sheet.
Just as simplistic, noisy punk rock overthrew arena rock commercialism, instant film is DIRECT, messy, convenient, FUN, exciting photography. It’s a middle finger to convention and supposed-progress. Less aggressively, instant film prints are classic American kitsch. Refrigerator art that warms even the coldest binary heart with their humble innocence.
So in 2014, I added a Fuji Instax package to my wedding photography offerings and one awesome couple, Sara and Mike pulled the trigger on hiring me to shoot Instax film throughout their wedding day alongside my b&w 35mm film for their wedding in September in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.
My fiance and wedding photo partner, Stephanie Lee was concerned that I’d have difficulty shooting two very different formats of film with such wildly different cameras. And frankly, I was too. But I’d done some practice Instax throughout other weddings and had my method pretty well worked out.
I filled my old Domke F2 camera bag with two brand new Fuji Instax 210 cameras and 8 boxes of Fuji Instax Wide film, that’s 160 possible photos. I bring 2 cameras because, let’s face it, they’re consumer grade plastic cameras so one is bound to break down or get damaged blowing through this much film. I shot from pre-bridal until I ran out of film at the reception. I didn’t and don’t plant to shoot instant during the ceremony, however, particularly when flash is needed, I just feel that the format is too noisy and distracting for the formal event. I also need to concentrate on 35mm then, in order to get those really critical shots.
Throughout the day and night, I shared the images I had on hand with those around me who were curious but I carefully kept track of all the prints and protected them in my Domke bag. The idea is that I take all the prints home with me and scan them, then return the originals to the bride and groom. This way, they can share online and then cherish the physical print artifacts for their uniqueness. I believe that Sara and Mike will be incorporating their Instax prints with the thank-you cards!
I did my best to expose, focus and compose accurately but, instant film and p&s cameras being what they are, I accept the shortcomings and believe they bring character and life to the image.
Below are some of the results of my first Instax wedding, enjoy
I’d be happy to either shoot for you or to help you choose what camera and film to buy and from where. Anyone can take photos with an instant film camera, but I do think that a trained film photographer is going to get you more consistent results and better moments than someone picking up one of these cameras for the first time. Plus, the workflow of taking 10 photos, what to do with the prints and reloading quickly is a challenge. And of course I also digitize all my film too so that clients can share online and keep a copy for themselves. The choice is up to you! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions though! I hope you enjoyed my photos and comments here.