Q&A: Expired Eight /w Thomas Zamolo

This is the fifth edition of our Q&A blog series titled "The Expired Eight". Our aim is to highlight instant film photographers using expired film in a variety of formats. Today's Q&A is with Thomas Zamolo. Connect with Thomas on Flickr and Facebook!

Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it?
     I got my first Polaroid camera in 2000. It was a birthday gift from my childhood friend. A 1200i and at first I was really not convinced by the result I was getting. It’s not until I got my first sx-70 on ebay when I was living in Germany and used time zero film that I really fell in love with instant photography. After that, I just got more and more interested in learning the technique and the art of photography. Slowly discovering this beautiful field. Going from integral film types to peel apart to 4x5’ and 8x10’. I guess I stick to analogue and instant photography because it is some how a small protest against the constant race to the development of new technology. With my work and specifically photography, I want to focus on the art and not the technology around it.

How would you describe your work?
     I don’t think it’s really my job to try to describe my own work. I like to let the spectator feel what they need to feel, go where they want to be when they are standing in front of my pictures. Once the work is out there, it doesn’t belong to me any more but to the viewer and his or her thoughts and imagination. I want to stay connected and concentrated to the creation moment; witch if you look at my body of work so far, maybe it doesn’t look very homogeneous. I’m not focusing on always shooting with the same type of films, or restrict myself to only landscape photography or street photography… When the inspiration or a “good” idea comes to me, this is it and I will not look at it and see if it would fit with the rest of my work or not. If it becomes a good series I will present it other wise it will stay home.
But If I would put my self as a viewer, I would notice that the work is floating between the styles of landscape photography, portrait, fantasy, private, and could be even be documentary at times.

What types of Instant Cameras do you own?  Which One is your favorite and why?
     I’m not an instant camera collector. I like to keep and use the ones that give me the result I want. In general, I let the idea for a new series dictate the choice of camera and film.
In my closet, I could list the 180, 195, 600se, mini passport (4 lens, 2 lens, 4x5’), 1200i, big shot and a few of sx-70 and 680. I also use a beautiful 8x10 pinhole and a Chamonix 4x5 with the respective instant backs.

What attracted you to expired film? Have a favorite?
     I’m not too different then everyone else out there when it comes to why I like expired films.
It is the lack of total control of the final outcome. The unpredictability and vulnerability of it is something interesting to work with when one is getting more and more picky about everything else around it. I also think that the quality and look of the image is a bridge between painting and photography. And of course the uniqueness of it is something that no one can reject. All films have a different way of aging but the time zero is still the one type that I get amazed with each time I take a shot or see pictures from other photographers. In general, the other types tend to loose first their nice contrast and then later fall over to a more monochrome feeling, witch can give great results as well.

What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film?
     Well, probably the main difficulty is that you have to be ready to spend and loose tones of money; it’s a bet each time! Don’t be afraid to buy films that are 15-20 years expired. And sometimes you will get lucky, surprised and feel like a pirate that found a golden treasure.
I found last year some boxes of 64 tungsten 4x5’ from 1983 that still works and have given me wonderful images.

Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
     Just trust and enjoy the fact that every image will surprise you the way you didn’t expect it.


Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/publications?
     I’m in the process of building a new portfolio to be able to go around galleries and present my newest work. We will see what comes out of it…stay tuned! Other wise, I’m very happy to be part of the “12:12 men’s project”. We are about to finish presenting the second theme and it is already such a pleasure to discover every 4th or 5th day how fantastic everyone is in this group and especially what they can come up with for each theme that is announced every month…Stay tuned as well!

Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
     I want to include every instant photographer in this answer. I think everyone has something to bring to the field. I’m not only learning from the greatest photographers out there but also from the one that maybe doesn’t know much about photography or technique and is able to shake my ground with new ways of photographing and gives me a great lesson of pattern breaking. I could also mention that I’m not often inspired by other photographers. Other art form, like Visual Art, sometimes provokes my creativity much more than looking at other photographs.

Remember to visit his website: www.thomaszamolo.com and Connect with him on Flickr and Facebook!