Q&A: Pure Haloids's Intimate Instant Photo Store

Pure Haloids is the creation of Pasquale Maria Salerno. His website sales original instant photographs: signed, numbered, and delivered with a certificate of authenticity from artists around the globe. His store's focus is on sensual and erotic themes, fantasies and imagery, in many flavors. The open minded and big hearted photography connoisseurs and collectors are warmly welcome. Au contraire, no room is offered to the faint of heart and the judgmental. His store currently represents 7 artists including Penny Felts and Tom Hofmann. We sat down with the creator to learn more about his unique store and what we can expect from him in the future. Make sure to visit the store's website at: Pure Holaroids!

Your website aims to deliver instant photographic goods that are both sensual and collective, Where did your idea to start this type of e-commerce store arise?
Actually the original idea was all about objects, real actual things made by real person with real craft skills, vs. the huge and greedy digital universal equivalent, which makes images, music, texts, everything, dade out of just a bunch of bits. As a film photographer raised in the late 80s, I have a strong and emotional connection with the physical side of photography, so the idea turned almost immediately into a “photographic thing”. After that, I thought that real photographs cannot really be just slavishly showcased on facebook or flickr or any other “social website”, becoming yet another drop of digital bits in the flood of digital images; instead they should have kept their own meaning as art objects, and in the same time a “social” trait: and this is why I thought about an actual e-commerce store instead of a showcase site, and about an international collaboration with other artists/craft people. Of course when I first thought about “physical objects”, somewhat the “sensual/erotic” theme was the natural content matter, so that both the “thing” and its content could match and define the whole idea of “real vs. virtual”: nothing has to be fake in purehaloids, and sensuality and reality have so many facets - both in terms of content and in terms of style!

How did you come up with the name Pure Haloids?
Actually because we were looking for a name/brand which was able to point to the kind of objects showcased over there: only photographs made of a pure chemical matter, which happens to be silver halide and haloid salt: pretty much different from those 1 / 0 digital bits! And of course the assonance with the polaroid name helps.

Juliana Martins

How many people operate Pure Haloids? is it a one man operation?
From the operational point of view yes: mostly because a store is a delicate matter especially in terms of transactions; still, the whole initiative is fueled by all the people who joined it: we stay in touch, discuss and communicate using the most useful digital tools nowadays – facebook chats and email mainly.

How are your artists selected to have their work sold on your site?
At the beginning I asked my “partners in crime”, who were actually my first choice, to suggest photographers and artists. Then of course I got a few spontaneous submissions as well – but I must also say than some who first agreed on joining never actually joined or got back in touch anymore. I could say i'm the “art director” of purehaloids, but more in the sense of wanting every represented work must add a unique view to the whole “360° sensuality” theme: I wish that each photograph keeps its own beauty and personality, while in the same time all the photographs contribute to create     a bigger and varied picture.
What are your plans for the future?
Probably later this year we could plan little exhibitions locally (US, France, Italy), to help spread the word around this purehaloids thing, but also because it’s something which is actually the DNA of it: real-world exhibitions where actual photographs are shown and people can meet in person… We’re also discussing about new online selling strategies, of course, and maybe, but that’s quite early now, a sort of printed catalogue or something like that: it would be pretty nice to offer this purehaloids 360° sensual research in a different form - again: in a real, physical form!

Tom Hofmann

Please tell me more about the liquid collective! 
Well, the point is there is no need to enroll anybody per se but because of the photographs she/he makes. I personally met Penny Felts a couple of years ago, and I have a long time connection with Lobbiaz, so I asked them first, and they’ve been happy to join. Then we asked more people, some of them (mainly from US, sorry) didn’t even answer, some said ok but then just disappeared, some would have been happy to join but didn’t have time (and that’s fair enough), and some just got on board… There have been also a few who asked to join, and a couple got in. So it does not really make sense to say who’s in the collective today (for example, I’m not in it anymore, technically, as there are no photographs of mine in the shop right now! LOL), as the composition might very likely change tomorrow, in a week or in a month. We’re actively looking around to find possible candidates since the beginning: what’s important is to fit in “the big picture” made of “sensual + real photographs”.

How do you feel your price point competes with major online art galleries/stores?
Well, this is a sensitive point, so to say! We decided the price point thinking that it should match the uniqueness of the photograph for sale, the emotional content and the creativity of the photographer. But we also noticed that many photographers are trying to sell instant photographs on ebay for around 10 euros, which is not just a shame, but an insult the photographer does to her/him-self - and to the whole community of fine art photographers; on the other hand, art galleries have much higher price tags, but they are a whole different story: galleries work with a closed circuit of artists and collectors, they (are supposed to) promote artists, build their reputation as such and doing so they bump the prices as much as they can. This purehaloids thing is different, and we decided to set a price point fair enough for both the photographers and the collectors, regardless of any gallery or gallerist criticism.

RRR Diaz

How are sales? How long have you been in operation?
The initiative launched at the beginning of December, and actually sales don’t go very well, definitely, but we kind of knew it from the start: we have no budget for advertising anywhere, and the very point here is that it’s supposed to be a mid to long term thing, and we also hope that communities like yours - and hopefully many others! - would help spread the word! So sales weren’t really expected, or at least we didn’t expect to sell 2 or 5 or 12 or any number: the platform is there, the philosophy is there, presence matters anyway, and more initiatives will hopefully come up during 2015. Still, from the sales figures I can definitely say that the web is a very bad place for real photographs, as people like to look at them on their monitors just like any other image, but would hardly go on and get a real unique photograph to hold in her/his hands, smell, look at in different lighting conditions, frame, hang on a wall… It’s really like people want to escape from their own environment, and instead of making it nice and beautiful with any art, just find a lot easier to stare at a multitude of screens - tv screen, computer screen, smartphone screen, tablet screen... There so much fear of the real world, of messing up with it, of dealing with it out there, and that’s so dreadful!

Daniele Pezzoli

How has your site resonated with the polaroid artist community?
… Is there really a polaroid artist community out there? Didn’t know that! No, seriously, I don’t think polaroid artist community had really noticed our site! Single polaroid photographers got in touch mainly to ask to join, single polaroid gallery holders complained about the low prices and accused us to destroy the market… What I believe is that many polaroid photographers just have they own ecosystem and don’t really care about purehaloids or any other initiative: they may just get in touch if you get in touch with them, but well, let’s say most of them are maybe shy!

Your website states, "Au contraire, no room is offered to the faint of heart and the judgemental.". Do you find that others artists or clientele would be offended by what you are doing? How did you come up with your in the face mission statement?
Why should anybody be offended? For what? The statement is about the content we decided to showcase and put on sale: we thought it would have been a good idea to advise those who didn’t agree with the content of the photographs to stay away: I think it was just fair, and “in the face” just to be clear: it’s a collective patchwork aiming to shape a sometimes sensitive content, so a clear warning is needed.

Anything else?
Well, I personally, together with the others, would sincerely like to thank you for your interest in willing to know more and help us spread the word: I think we all share the love for actual photographs, so I think it’s a good thing to stay in touch with each other building culturally active and content-wise networks!