This is the 13th 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 Camille Lévêque Lévêque! Camille is a 29 year old French photographer based in Oakland, California. She graduated from university in 2004 with a degree in Arts and Literature. She has since been an editorial assistant for MAGNUM PHOTO agency in Paris, and co-founded Orpheus Standing Alone publishing house. Recently she was featured in the London Pinhole Festival 2015 at the Doomed Gallery in London, UK. Connect with Camille on her website and Tumblr!
Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it:
Instant film has always been in my life. Most of my childhood memories were captured on these little square windows. I have been using it for years, as I always thought it was a great way to share photography with others and I was nostalgic about the pictures I grew up with. They all always looked so perfect, the colors were at the same time very vivid and pastel, and the grain usually was outstanding. I like the idea that with a pretty basic polaroid camera you can obtain amazing results. Tarkovski’s Polaroids definitely inspired me to keep shooting instant film, his images have an incredible veil, and very poetical tones. I often unconsciously end up trying to captures lights, landscapes I discovered through his work.
How would you describe your work?
Very contemplative I guess, as it usually is quiet, empty scenery. Maybe too shy sometimes. I don’t really do portraits and hardly do compositions, I witness things and try to capture the moment before it’s gone. Now, my work is very different between digital and analogue cameras. I started to use digital for reportage, because I needed to work fast, be efficient, and make sure I had what I needed. Working with film and especially with instant films have more appeal to me as you don’t always know what to expect, and there are amazing surprises.
How did you decide what subjects to photograph? What sorts of things capture your attention?
It’s usually pretty obvious to me, the scenery I stumble on while wandering around, or random items, peculiar situations. The most random objects often end up giving life to the best pictures.Nowadays, I am very attracted by cemeteries, plants, reflections and patterns. I like the way nature create still life images everywhere it’s a perpetual investigation. While traveling, I also like to document and focus on peculiar, unusual things.
What types of Instant Cameras do you own? Which one is your favorite and why?
I own a fuji instal wide 300, a polaroid 636 auto-focus, and a 600 job pro. I’m planning on acquiring a polaroid 1000 SX-70 and a color back 80. I don’t have a favorite one, they’re all pretty handy and basic, I am looking forward to having a new one, and try various formats.
What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film in this format?
The cost of polaroid films might be a hurdle, even expired films remain rather expensive. They becoming more rare too, It’s harder to find wholesale prices. The best option, and the safest is to buy a bunch, like a really big lot and store them. Also sometimes some films don’t end up giving great images, from one batch to another and depending on the weather some expired lot are just shitty and give blurry, missed pictured. Even from the same batch, some pictures look amazing and some others come out all maroon. I like that, It’s a bit of a waste but a sort of gambling too.
When you are not shooting expired Polaroid film, what film are you shooting any why?
I shoot with regular polaroid film, 120mm and 135mm films, regular as well as expired, depending on what I find and my budget.
Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
Not as much as a tip than an advice: do it! Experimenting is the best part in photography, and the greatest way to learn.