This is the 14th 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 Brian Henry! He is a self taught, experimental art photographer and explorer. His first camera came from money he earned blowing up balloons. While Brian has won a few scholarships to attend art school, he chose to apply his money to his own unscripted, artistic journey. Brian experiments using a variety of cameras and techniques but is most satisfied using old Polaroid cameras and expired film. He describes his work- "I am very experimental with my work and often find myself doing it "wrong" or just whatever feels right. My photos are sometimes manipulated, burned, peeled, abused…or left in abandoned buildings to decay".
Brian has traveled up and down the East Coast of the U.S., as well as Eastern Europe and the Balkans. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland where he co-owns the curiosity shop Bazaar in Hampden. Connect with Brian on Flickr!
Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it:
Polaroid had been in my life as a kid, but I did not start shooting it regularly until 2004. It coincided with my recently purchased, piece of crap digital camera, and I shot regularly with both of them. I always favored using the Polaroid, but of course because of its price, I had to learn how to make the most of each shot. What inspired me to continue using it was finding that there was an entire community of people online creating epic works of art. I was obsessed (and still am) with polanoid.net and the inspiring works seen there daily.
When did you discover the joys of expired film? What keeps you coming back?
I started using expired film when I realized that I was addicted to shooting it and could not afford to pay full price for it! I checked ebay daily for expired cases and was able to hoard quite a lot of film before they announced discontinuation. I am not buying expired film any longer. When what I have is gone, I will simply use whatever is available that I can afford.
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my work as ghostly, personal and adventurous.
How did you decide what subjects to photograph? What sorts of things capture your attention?
My true passion is to work within abandoned buildings. Sometimes I have an idea of what to expect inside and other times I have no clue. I enjoy capturing the scenes as they are, and sometimes wherever my mind wanders to fill the frame. A lot of the places I go involve being stealthy and cautious of your surroundings. Part of the adventure is to avoid getting caught. It's a rush! I also enjoy being experimental in my work. I often abuse film before, during and after exposures. When I'm not out wandering in abandoned buildings, I will use myself as the initial subject for a canvas of experimentation.
What types of Instant Cameras do you own? Which one is your favorite and why?
I have around 20 Polaroid cameras. My favorite for integral films is the SX-70 alpha because of it being an SLR camera with a tripod mount. My favorite for peel-apart films is my converted 110a because of the sharp lens with manual exposure. Can't pick between those two!
What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film in this format?
I don't find it more or less difficult using expired as opposed to fresh film beyond the chance of ending up with a dud pack you were relying on! Expired or fresh film in the winter sometimes result in the battery freezing and I end up not being able to take photos entirely. It sucks! last winter I drove 2 hours, hiked through knee-high snow and couldn't warm my cameras up enough to shoot anything.
Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
Play around with what feels right and wrong to you. Expect disasters. Expect nothing.