Rhiannon Adam is a London based Polaroid photographer/curator, originally hailing from Co. Cork, Ireland. She has been taking Polaroid photographs for over ten years."I started out shooting with a budget 600 series Polaroid camera and a healthy supply of free film. After catching the Polaroid bug and falling in love with the tangibility of the instant image – I quickly started collecting as many Polaroid cameras as I could lay my hands on. This has led to a collection resembling an addiction." She says.
Below are 5 things she loves about film.
1. The main thing I love about film is that each picture is like a little present – a surprise. You never quite know how it will turn out. When I shoot Polaroid, even the smallest change in light can have a huge difference, and the temperature of where I shoot, or how I “nurse” the picture while developing can all cause massive changes. With expired film, the picture is only half yours, and the rest belongs to fate. When I shoot with 35mm, or medium format, sometimes I end up with light leaks, or double exposures, or moments I wasn’t aware I captured. It’s not so immediate and always a little bit out of control. Too much in life is self conscious and deliberate and film frees me from all of that. I love the happy accident, and that seems to happen a hell of a lot more with film. Shooting film is far less self conscious than digital, and therefore it’s freeing.
2. I’m a purist – and these days you wouldn’t shoot on film unless you liked purity. You don’t shoot film if you want to PhotoShop it to death afterwards. There is a kind of respect for the medium… I like that what I took is what I took. I don’t manipulate my ‘straight’ Polaroids, and I like that people looking at them know that. If they have the border intact, everyone knows that is a picture that I haven’t manipulated. They know that they are real, that there is a hard copy in a drawer somewhere, it’s a bit like knowing where you come from your ancestry…
You can’t really ever replicate a Polaroid – it’s an object. I make all my decisions in camera, and if they weren’t great decisions, well so be it. That’s the way it is. Purity, absolutely.
3. I love working with Polaroid specifically because it is also manipulable in a physical sense. I create large scale emulsion lifts that are stressful to make, but oh-so-satisfying when finished. This is a purely analogue process and a complete labour of love. I love that no one else is involved in the process – no computer software, no lab. Just me, camera, film, water, paintbrush and scalpel blade. I like that they are hard work. Digital makes these sort of manipulations easy and a bit soulless, and mine put the blood, sweat, and tears back in. I guess I come from the school whereby it’s good to suffer for your art a little and I don’t like things that are too easy. I feel like this pushes me further and teaches me lessons along the way. Film never allows me to stop learning.
4. The kit! Now this is such a boy answer – the male photographers I meet often have more of a love for the kit than what they shoot. But seriously, have you ever seen anything more beautiful than an old wooden box camera? Could you ever have that same sense of poetry holding any digital camera from 3 years ago when compared to a camera that your great grandfather carried in his pocket in WWI? Film cameras can last a lifetime, and digital cameras are throwaway. It seems that there is a big divide between low end digital cameras and high end digital cameras - with film, it doesn't matter so much - it's not about the camera but what you do with it. It's more accessible, contrary to what most people seem to think!
5. The film community itself. We film shooters are becoming a bit of a dying breed and I love the camaraderie and mild competition. It’s a relatively tight community that is thriving and experimenting. In our way we are all a little rebellious, and not afraid to take risks. I think that’s what we all have in common – a willingness to throw ourselves into the unknown.