Dear Impossible Project,
I will never forget my first Polaroid. For me it’s where my whole journey began.
(January 2012 : PX 680 Color Shade on a Supercolor 600 camera)
It will be two years this month (on the 26th) that I began shooting models instead of just self-portraits, and it will also be the two year anniversary of me taking my first ever Polaroids. When I was given my Supercolor as a Christmas present in December 2011, I’d been told that you couldn’t get Polaroid film anymore. However I knew that I could get expired stock on Ebay that may or may not work. Expired film is always a risk – for me, a very rewarding one.
I then discovered your film completely by accident whilst looking at stuff in a Fat Buddha store in Glasgow. Impossible Project? What’s this?! Do old Polaroid cameras take it? They do, the store assistant informed me (squee) and I bought my first pack online soon after. Since then a shoot is never a shoot, unless I have some Polaroid or Impossible film with me. I only care about nailing my instant photos because there’s just something so unique about them for me, and the immediate fix that I get from shooting them.
I joined Twitter in December last year and when tagging people in posts or photos I always get a bit nervous. I see so many great Polaroids appear in my feed with the Impossible tag and it’s many variations. I kept waiting for a tweet back from someone at HQ telling me to stop tagging you with my godawful attempts at photography. Fucksake. You’re making us look bad! Then on January the 2nd, you did this –
But you didn’t leave it there, because later on that day I received an email via my website from someone at Impossible asking to speak to me.
The thing is, what you don’t know, is that when I took up photography two years ago I was ‘just’ a model. Within the online model/photography community where I was working models who do photography are bullied and belittled, because certain members of that community can’t deal with
women models picking up cameras and possibly using them better than they can. Models are perceived and conditioned to be one-dimensional characters in this little community – you’re either a model or a photographer, you can’t be both. More importantly, you’re just the tits and the tits doesn’t voice an opinion and it certainly doesn’t operate a camera. I even used to label myself as a ‘modelographer’ so that I didn’t come across as being too big for my boots.
Labels, oh gawd I am so sick of labels.
My sole reason for becoming a model in 2011 was the creative outlet that it gave me. I built up a portfolio that went against the norm’ on portfolio sites. I didn’t have doc shots, or full length shots or anything basic that models ‘should’ have. My portfolio was primarily my window for reflecting me and the arty interests that I had. It still is. I didn’t even like having my face photographed, so for the first year you could barely tell what I looked like from my images. It’s never been about ‘pretty pictures’ and looking pretty – I’m not pretty and besides, pretty doesn’t last. The one thing that has lasted has been my love for photography, moreover the analogue community that appreciates Impossible film and what they have given me back in return. Despite two years of constant grief from jaded photographers over the very medium that I love, I’ve never once wanted to stop using it.
When you emailed me you won’t have known that I relocated from Scotland last year to get closer to my goal of doing photography for a living. It’s meant I have had to take on a very small part-time job that leaves my days and weekends free to focus on that dream. I’m skint and living on very little but fortunately I have small out-goings, and more importantly, I’m doing the thing that I love. I now have surrounded myself with similarly passionate people. I’ve left that model/photography community where I started out because I don’t want to shoot weddings and I don’t want to shoot model portfolios. I don’t want to be constantly standing up for my right to be a photographer and justify why I shoot analogue, and I don’t want to sit around on portfolio sites never going anywhere with my work. I want to make art and have it go somewhere else other than online.
You didn’t know all of that when you emailed me and you didn’t know all of that when you posted my parcel last week. It arrived from Berlin a few days ago.
(Don’t mock the single brussel sprout at the bottom of my fridge, I do actually eat occasionally).
See this? This isn’t just film that you have kindly given to me, it’s the next few projects worth of work that I will be making in the hopes that I can exhibit it back in Scotland. Usually I buy a couple of packs of film every month or so, and frugally plan out what to shoot on it. It takes a while but it’s always worth it. I’ll still be diligently considering each shot I take but now I don’t need to worry about saving to buy my first load of stock for these projects, because you’ve given me it; and I’m so very, very grateful.
Essentially, this is why I shoot Impossible film and why I continue to be inspired by the new people that I’ve met through it. Because the people within this community are far more supportive and passionate than any other I have known.
Thank you Impossible for supporting my work. 🙂