This is the 17th 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 Julia Beyer! Beyer is an analogue photographer from Germany that works with instant film to express her inner visions that often show dreamlike landscapes and surreal atmospheres. Although she is mostly known for her musical endeavors as the singer of the indie bands Chandeen and Seasurfer, she dived head first into the photographic art form in 2014. Since then, her work has been published in various international print and online publications including Monochrome Magazine, Shoot Film UK, and The Impossible Project Magazine Magazine. Recently in 2017, she became a member of the renowned 12:12 Project, a worldwide collective of female Polaroid photographers. When she is not shooting instant film she sings in the Dreampop band Chandeen and works full time in the media industry. Connect with Julia Beyer on her website, Instagram, and Facebook!
Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired you to keep using it: What attracted you to Expired Film. What's your favorite to use?
I first saw photos taken with expired Polaroid film or early Impossible film when I got to know Polaroid photographer Emilie Lefellic through a mutual friend of ours in 2008. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I purchased my first instant camera and began to shoot. When I first saw photos taken with expired Polaroid film, I was captivated. The softness of instant film, combined with the often blueish hues, sometimes graced with beautiful yellow flames… I instantly wanted to know more about this film! I shot expired Impossible film or Polaroid packfilm in the meantime, but it took me until 2016 that I finally managed to get hold of some expired SX-70 film, and I loved every single shot. So my favorite expired Instant film to use is obviously Polaroid SX-70 even though it is so hard to find nowadays.
How do you describe your work and how do you decide what subjects to photograph?
The common thread in my photos is most likely a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere. Besides expired film, I also love to use filters to alter the scene before my eyes. Until now, I mostly focused on landscape photography and some still life every now and then (e.g. my “Hands” series). As I am a rather introverted person, I did not shoot much with models yet, but I’d really like to change that in the future. If a certain scene develops before my eyes - be it right in front of me or in my head, if it evokes a feeling I can relate to or fits my inner aesthetics, I will release the shutter.
What sorts of things capture your attention?
I can’t really pin that down to specific attributes. It can be a certain vintage color, interesting textures, a nostalgic or mystical atmosphere… or just an idea of something that I find intriguing.
What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film in this format?
Well, obviously it gets harder and harder to obtain expired Polaroid film, especially the famous SX-70 film. The prices are becoming really ridiculous online and I feel an utter and infinite desolation that not so far away in the future, there will be no working Polaroid SX-70 film left. I also know that I am very privileged to have been able to shoot several packs of this film - and get decent results. As the chemicals in the pods of the film tend to dry out with age depending on the storage, the chances to buy a non working pack on eBay are quite high.
What types of Instant Cameras do you own? Which one is your favorite and why?
I own several instant cameras for different formats, beginning with a simple 636, a Spectra Image Elite Pro, several Polaroid SLRs, a 250 for packfilm and a Fuji Instax Neo 90 (rather for party snapshots). My favourite is by far the SX-70 with its classic retro design, it’s just a quintessentially beautiful camera that lets you take the best photos on integral film.
Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
Don't let yourself be discouraged if you happen to buy a dried-out pack or if the results at first don’t live up to your expectations. Shooting expired film takes some experience, very often expired film needs more light (as for Polaroid) or less light (as for Impossible film) than fresh film. Also watch out for the expiration date - the older the film, the higher the possibility that it won’t work, but you certainly can get lucky if the film has been stored cool and dry. I would not advise to buy expired Polaroid film that expired before 2003 or 2004. But even if you perhaps spend a ridiculous amount of money on dried-out packs, the results of the still working expired films that you might get are totally worth it.
When you are not shooting expired Polaroid film, what film are you shooting and why?
As my stash of expired Polaroid film is unfortunately almost empty, I also often opt for expired Impossible film. The results are certainly different, but nonetheless beautiful. You get some surreal colour shifts or strange blotches, soft contrasts - this is definitely a nice alternative in my opinion. I am also having a peek into 35mm photography lately.
Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
I am inspired a lot by the work of Adi Putra, Emilie Lefellic, Dan Isaac Wallin, Edie Sunday, and Paul Hoi. Apart from this, the instant film community has grown so much over the last few years, which is crazy and absolutely amazing! There are so many devoted, talented and inspiring instant photographers out there and I stumble across interesting new photographers almost weekly!