This is the 22nd 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 Marion Lanciaux!
Paris based photographer and teacher, Marion Lanciaux has been shooting instant film since 2006. One of her first projects called "Correspondences" drew a parallel between Polaroids and letters, based on the very flaws, uneven textures, and accidents that make instant photography, just like written messages, more poetic and unique. She was a 12.12 Project Member from 2013 to 2016 and co-initiated a project based on instant memento mori called "Polaskull" with French photographer Aurélien Boyer.
Marion's work with expired film shows us a world that is vibrant, alive, filled with warmth and light. The "flames" of Polaroid Time Zero film add brilliance and hints of movement to everyday photographic scenes, portraits, still life's, landscapes. In Marion's work, the ordinary becomes the supernatural. There is a nostalgia that emanates from her photos, a longing for something unidentifiable, amorphous, elusive. Whoever we are, whatever it is we are seeking, we can find glimpses of it there, hidden among the flames, in the waves, layered beneath the superpositions.
Tell us about when instant film came into your life, and what inspired you to keep using it.
I started shooting instant film in 2006 and discovered the beauty of expired film by browsing amazing galleries on flickr and the Polanoid that same year. I bought a couple of expired Polaroid Type 669 film packs with a Polaroid 600SE Camera and thus began the frenzy!
What attracted you to expired film? What is your favorite to use?
I was immediately drawn to the magical quality of expired film. The random effects are perfect for creating an otherworldly mood. I like the flaws, the uneven textures, the accidents that make things more poetic. As far as instant film is concerned, I love the fact that it’s a unique object that you can feel and touch, it’s quite sensual. I’m totally in love with Time Zero integral film but sadly its production was discontinued some years ago, so it’s getting harder and harder to find. The same thing is true for the Polaroid Type 669 peel-apart film. I miss the mystic flames of Time Zero film, which still remains my favorite film to use even though I don’t have any left. To look on the bright side, I definitely enjoy impossible new film.
How do you describe your work and how do you decide which subjects to photograph? What sort of things capture your attention?
I’ve always found it very hard to describe my work. I really consider my photographs as an intimate form of communication. I wish they could evoke haunting lyrics of the songs that grow on us, conjure up forgotten words, and trigger lost memories. Literature seems to be a great source of inspiration, as well as indie music. I often feel like my pictures are a conscious or unconscious attempted dialogue between words, music and images. I try to explore themes such as melancholia, memory, communication and dreaminess. My favorite subjects to shoot are eerie or dreamy landscapes and people I feel close to. It’s all about connection, that’s the main power of instant I guess, sharing this very special moment when the image appears in front of our eyes. It creates a bond with the model. That’s priceless.
What are the main hurdles and difficulties in obtaining and using expired film in this format?
Well, to get your hands on Time Zero film, you have to be loaded or extremely lucky, and you have to make sure to get the latest packs (2004- 2006) if you want some results. Obviously you can have a battery issue (the chemistry might work but the battery is dead), which implies swapping the dead one with a new battery in the dark. To be honest, I’m so clumsy I’ve asked a friend who was more experienced to do it for me when it happened. I was way too anxious to mess things up and lose valuable film in the process.
What types of instant cameras do you own? Which is your favorite and why?
The Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid 600SE, and Polaroid Spectra cameras remain my weapons of choice. As far as shooting expired film is concerned, I would definitely go for the Polaroid SX-70 or the Polaroid 600SE, as you can obtain good results with old 600 / SX-70 film and pack films, whereas I’m not a big fan of rotten spectra film, it tends to turn out yellowish and dull. I like it fresh.
Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
What’s great with expired film is that you have to go with the flow and use the flaws and defects as a creative source. For instance, when the chemistry doesn’t spread properly, you can try and guess what element will show up on the next picture and start imagining combinations and mosaics. Superpositions and layers can do wonders. I’m also a big fan of dirty rollers leaving dots of light on the picture. My motto is "don’t clean your rollers". Torturing pack film before peeling it is also a fun way to achieve a psychedelic effects, such as chemical skies and clouds.
When you are not shooting expired polaroid film, what are you shooting and why?
I shoot roll film and 35mm as well, but I’m never quite satisfied with the result. As for instant film, I love Impossible Project round frame and Spectra film. Fresh spectra is perfect for double-exposures.
Do you have any instant photographers who inspire you?
There are so many it’s hard to pick a few. It’s such a vibrant community. There are so many people who were on The Polanoid that definitely inspired me. I would say that all the ladies and gentlemen from the 12.12 Project keep on amazing me. I feel so lucky that Penny Felts, who initiated the project, asked me to join in. Even though I stopped after the third year, I still follow the project closely. Please, make sure to visit each photographer’s gallery, it’s worth it! I can’t be thorough but here is a list of photographers using expired film that don’t belong to the 12.12 Project, and that you must definitely check out if you don’t know them : Caballos Blancos, Amalia Sieber, Raymond Molinar, Cyril Auvity, SF Said (The Gentleman Amateur), Brian Henry and Jordanna Kalman.