Photographer: Mara Elizabeth Foley's Parallel Realities

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Mara Elizabeth Foley is a photographer who lives and works in Pennsylvania. She has a long history with photography that began during her teenage years. She has been practicing instant photography since 2011. Her work focuses on alternative photographic processes. Her expertise is reflected thorough various subject matter, the core of her work being an exploration of the alternate worlds that the camera can produce, rather than focusing on a single subject. Through her most recent double exposure work, she transforms the camera from an objective recording device into an instrument that produces intimate, parallel universes.

Mara Elizabeth's work is a limited only by the bounds of her imagination. In the stories she creates with her camera, in the snippets of daydream and memory, anything is possible. Victorian houses rise from piano keyboards. Young women ascend urban stairways to heaven. Walls and ceilings give way to mountains, floors give way to lakes. Like the surrealists, she taps into universal themes, and explores the omnipotence of dream and imagination. Her work is multi-faceted, inviting a close look. There is a lot going on in these compositions, though many of them are subtle thanks to the muted colors and monochromatic tonal ranges, and a cursory glance causes one to miss important details. 

 As an artistic medium photography suffers from the common misconception that it is fundamentally a documentary tool; that photography is more or less a creative twist on a technology produced in order to record an objective reality. Mara Elizabeth's goal as a photographer is to create an image that could not be seen without the use of a camera, to stretch and bend a slice of recorded “reality” into a something unique to the photographic medium. These double exposures are produced when slices of reality are seen through one another, layered and blended; The two are fused together to produce a single, new image that doesn’t correspond to anything existing outside of the frame. The camera is transformed from a recorder of the objective into a producer of the subjective and fantastical.

Mara Elizabeth has been passionate about photography for as long as she can remember. She first began shooting on Polaroid film as a child. However, it wasn’t until High School, when she encountered one of Jerry Uelsmann’s photographs, that she realized the sort of work she wanted to create. She had started at a new school and barely knew anyone; she was already experiencing a sort of slanted, unreality. When she sat down on the first day of Film class, she saw there in front of her the most beautiful photograph she had ever seen. It shows a broken down house atop a tree stump, the sky beyond and above dark and stormy, as though it’s about to rain. However, the anticipation of that rain is frozen, and remains so forever, just a moment before falling on a house that could never have existed outside of the picture. The emotion that it evoked was so powerful that she immediately began to research his process and work. It was this photograph that stirred her desire to become a photographer, and inspired her own artistic goals. As a photographer she wants to create images that could not be seen without the use of a camera, to stretch and bend a slice of recorded “reality” into a reality unique to the photographic medium. She wants to be able to evoke that emotion and sense of wonder that Uelsmann’s work evoked in her in adolescence, to ground us and lift us at once through the experience of a photographic world that can be encountered nowhere else.

Years of effort, error, and experience have allowed her to select a toolbox best suited to these goals. She's been shooting on Impossible film since 2011, when she bought her first 600 camera. The Impossible Instant lab is indispensable to her current projects; it allows her to expose her film multiple times with relative ease, creating alternative worlds with every exposure. She's come to favor Impossible 600 Color Film because no other film works as well in conjunction with these other tools for achieving her vision. The Instant Lab serves as both camera and printer. In doing so, it is a site for exposing multiple images. While the film itself is manipulated via temperature and time, sometimes utilized passed its expiration date, or else kept cold in order to create a dreamy, ethereal effect in the finished product. This combination of tools allows for a great breadth of variation between prints.

The Impossible film is highly unpredictable, which means she can use her Instant Lab in order to produce what would be the same image multiple times, while allowing each to yield fresh and unique qualities. This grants each image its own personality, aiding her in bringing to life these alternative photographic spaces, all the more real in their uniqueness. It’s as though each Polaroid contains its own brand of magic, a personal spell. This variable nature makes the film incredible easy to influence through errors on my part, over exposure, impatience, accident, or purpose, something beautiful and personal is always rendered. Mara Elizabeth wants to achieve a distinct dreamy look that she's never been able to achieve with a digital camera. The majority of her work is experimental and abstract. The initial images may be something she has captured digitally or has scanned, but for the final product, digital mediums are just too clear, too sharp, and are essentially lacking that unique magic that her work craves. Her favorite example of this, from her own work, is entitled “City Hall”. It is a double exposure featuring a nude woman emerging from Philadelphia’s City Hall Building. She created this image with her Impossible Lab, a black and white image which she exposed on 600 Color Film. In the lower right hand corner there is a distinct thumb print from when she first held the image; maybe some would think that this unattractive, but to her it’s yet another layer of reality added to the work, more life and more breath. It has on it a special sort of signature, like a scar that tells the story of where it has been and who has held it.

Foley's work has been widely exhibited and featured worldwide online and in print. Of the numerous showings of her work, some of her recent exhibitions include: A Surreal Vision hosted at Mostra Collettiva Fotografica in Rome in June 2017 , Hair of the Cat Exhibition at the Black Cat Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January 2017, and the Pop Up Polaroid-One Year Anniversary Group Show at The Art Dept in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2016. She has been featured in print in One Hundred Volume 1 Issue 2  Instant in June 2017 and Square Magazine Volume 7 Issue 1 in July of 2016. She has also made appearances in Hylas Magazine, Snap It See Itand the Impossible Project Magazine

You can connect with Mara Elizabeth Foley on Instagram and on her website!


Anne Silver is an instant photography aficionado who lives in Paris, France and is a member of the 12:12 Project. Connect with Anne Silver on her Website and on Instagram!

NSFW Featured Photographer: Anthony Stone's Heartbreak Lovers

Anthony Stone is an Italian freelance writer and photographer based in Pescara, Abruzzo, the east Italian city on the Adriatic Sea. He has a very long history with photography which began in 1994, when his father gave me his first camera, a 35mm Minolta SRT101 at the age of 19. Initially only shooting in black and white, he quickly found what was and still his passionate obsession- the art of photographing the female form. Since this discovery, stone has spend the last 23 years shooting and honing his craft; though his weapon of choice has slowly changed as he has evolved as an artist. In the beginning he taught himself film development in the dark room through the old fashion way - by trail and error. In the "true" analog days of photography, there were no online forums or Facebook groups to guide you. He simply spent days and months experimenting with the machines of the past and he slowly progressed into a competent and experienced analog photographer. 

In the 1980's, Stone discovered the magic of instant film during the "boom" of Polaroid Type 600 film. During this time, almost everyone's home had at least one Polaroid 600 Box Camera, it was a cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, Polaroid film was just to expensive for a him to pursue. As a photographer, Stone needed to prioritize actually shooting photography, as the cost of Polaroid film was to high for such a small print that did not offer a negative for reproduction. So though he experienced the magic of instant film, he continued to use less costly 35mm film variants for his work. This all changed four years ago in 2014, when he accidentally discovered his old Polaroid 635cl Camera in perfect working condition. He told us, "When I took it and opened it, something happened, a thunderbolt, it was beautiful".

Unlike his old days of working through photographic technology by trail and error, Stone took to the internet at once discovered The Impossible Project. After his first pack of Impossible Project film came to his door, he immediately popped open his film door and inserted the brand new film cartridge. With his heart in his throat, this was the moment he had been waiting for. As soon as he closed his film door, the dark slide ejected and made the triumphant sound of analog victory. Though his first pack of Impossible Project film mainly consisted of failed attempts, over exposures, and bury photos, this was an artist turning point for Stone that has been a pivotal point in his photographic career.  Stone shared that, "I discovered a medium that was capable of capturing unique and unrepeatable photographs in a unique and unpredictable way, it was exactly what I need to evolve my visual poetry".

Since that moment in 2014, Stone has evolved from a portrait photographer who specialized in black and white to one that shoots almost completely in color. This trend reversal from his past photographic history is mainly due to instant film, which has helped him appreciate the unique range of dreamlike colors that only it can produce. He has grown from a man who sees the world in shades of gray, to one that thinks in color tones and reflections of light. This transition has enabled Stone to produce work that transcends your typical portrait photographer. For Stone, his photography is a portal into an alternate reality where he produces aesthetic, emotional, and erotic atmospheres through the female form. To Stone, his portrait photography is a medium that he uses to transcend the world around him and produce his perfect ideal of beauty. In particular, he looks to explore the eyes, mouth, and hands of his subjects, carefully framing these elements into frame to produce sharp attention grabbing images. 

Stone's photographs show us a romantic world that lays beyond the frame, telling stories of broken hearts, broken dreams, and past lovers. His visual poetry is made up of beautiful erotic scenes that appear lovely on the surface yet sing our shattered souls to sleep as we lay awake remembering the passion of the times we thought we had, but may have never even existed. His images offer the viewer a deliberating hope that is just out out of reach, one that you will never grasp. Let Stone take you on a journey into the moments you wish you could both live forever and immediately forget. 

Stone's work has been widely exhibited and featured worldwide online and in print. He is taking part in three upcoming group exhibitions including the Expression International Exhibition and Competition in Longford, Ireland in August 2017, and the Instant 085 Instant Film Exhibition in Pescara, Italy and the Polaroid of The Day Exhibition at Projekteria Art Gallery in Barcelona Spain, both in September 2017. He has  been featured in print in Hylas Magazine Volume 1: Loss and  in Issue 4 of "Monochrome Magazine and has current active online portfolios on Nakid Magazine, Anormal Mag, and Polaroid of the Day. Since Autumn 2016, Stone has been the creator and curator of the Instant 085 Instant Film Festival, held in Autumn in his hometown of Pescara, Italy.

You can connect with Anthony Stone on Instagram and on his website!


Michael Behlen is a photography enthusiast from Fresno, CA. He works in finance and spends his free time shooting instant film and seeing live music, usually a combination of the two. He is the founder of PRYME Editions. Connect with Michael Behlen on his Website and on Instagram!