Q&A: Expired Eight /w Dan Isaac Wallin

This is the 16th 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 Dan Isaac Wallin! In the creative aspect of his work, Dan Isaac Wallin has a love of Polaroid. He prefers to work with a simple SX-70 or 4x5" large format camera, using long expired Polaroid film. Wallin gently and carefully treats and mistreats the Polaroid film while it is developing, until he gets the soft ‘other-world’ look, that is the signature style of his work. Wallin has been a photographer for 16 years and was educated at Biskops-Arnö in Sweden. He recently exhibited at the Eduart Planting Fine Art Photography in the Netherlands and Dalsland Museum of Art. Connect with Dan Isaac Wallin on his website and Instagram!

"For Grandpa II"

Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it:
The first time I discovered Polaroid was at university while I was studying photography in 2000. At the time I didn't see the magic about it. We used it like everyone did at that time, to check the light before the real shooting. A few years later in 2003 I bought an SX-70 in a second hand shop and that was when the magic started. I loved that camera from the beginning. Then I got a Polaroid 180, 600SE, and then went into large format cameras.

When did you discover the joys of expired film? What keeps you coming back?
I love the expired film material because there is so much you can do with it to get a different result. Depending on exposure times and cold/warm developments I can achieve different colors and so on. There´s no stop in the process and I gently treat and mistreat the Polaroid film while it´s developing until I get the soft ”other world” look that I´m looking for. And the colors are just outstanding on the old Polaroid film. It feels more like a painting than a photograph sometimes. And then of course also the coincidence and accidents of the polaroid is fantastic.

How would you describe your work?
Nature has always been very close to my heart. I’m trying to freeze a world that I feel like I belong in myself. A dreamy melancholic feeling, where my mind often winds up. I return a lot to my roots, and many of my pictures are from journeys I took as a child. From the blue west coast of Sweden to the black and white desert landscape of Israel.

Everything is so changeable in the landscape. If you stay in the same place for a long time and really focus, you can see it. I love that feeling. And no day is the other alike. For me it´s almost like meditation to be out in nature, and to photograph it and translate it into my way of seeing it.

How did you decide what subjects to photograph? What sorts of things capture your attention?
I do mostly landscape and portrait photography. Places where I feel good always capture my attention and I often travel there. My pictures are a reflection on the human need for silence and reflection. Quick impressions and the daily stress of everyday life are far away. Left are our original values, roots and tranquility. What is more elementary then the sea, the mountains, and the earth?

People are also very interesting. Everyone has a story to tell and I love that. I do portraits of people that stand close to me and people I meet on my life journey. Sometimes I also do commercial work in my polaroid/art style when companies hire me for work.

What types of Instant Cameras do you own?  Which one is your favorite and why?
I have gone through a lot of different polaroid cameras during the years and still have a few. It is really hard to choose a favorite one, I love them all. Every camera has its charm and works differently. Mostly I work with my NPC195, SX-70, and large format cameras: a 4x5 and a 8x10. I think my Szabad 4x5 is my most beloved one. I like the working with large format cameras. It goes slow, takes time to set up and I normally just shoot a few images.

What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film in this format?
I don’t see any difficulties when I work with expired film. What can happen is that the film is too old and it doesn’t work at all. You have to find a way to treat every pack of film. It’s like a person, every pack is different and react differently depending on how you treat it.

Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
I think it’s good to try out different Polaroid films and cameras until you find what’s best for you. And most important follow your instinct and never give up.

Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
I really love the work of Sarah Moon. She’s been going strong for so many years and mostly been shooting Polaroids. She got that dreamy and melancholic expression that touch me deeply.