Innovations in Photography: Lilian Wildeboer's Holga to Spectra Images

Lilian Wildeboer is a Dutch analog and instant photographer who lives near Amsterdam, Netherlands, where she works as a bus driver for handicapped individuals. Lilian gave up a thirty-year long career in banking in order to do work that was more soulful and touched people's lives on a daily basis. In terms of photography, she is self-taught, learning from books, attending workshops, and taking inspiration from other photographers whom she admires. 

Lilian's body of work shows her boundless creativity. Her Polaroid Spectra Holga transferred images are otherworldly. representing vivid dream sequences that are both familiar, and yet unlike anything else we have ever seen. The characteristic Holga vignette combined with the bold colors, pulls the viewer into the scene allowing them to notice the light, the mood and the composition, which reveals itself to us slowly. These images are to be savored and then revisited, they reveal their secrets slowly, and we are left with one question in mind: How in the world did she do that?   

Lilian has a long history with photography, having received her first SLR camera at the age of 15. She describes that moment as the beginning of seeing and capturing moments of beauty. Lillian has always been drawn to nature and the beauty she has found there, especially tiny flowers and insects. She used this passion to begin practicing macro photography. A few years later, Lilian set up a photo studio above an obstetrics practice where she took portraits of expecting mothers and their newborns, work that she describes as being both tough and beautiful experiences.

Lilian has also done digital wedding photography. She loved capturing moments and expierences but did not enjoy the post-processing afterward, which demanded too much time in front of the computer for her taste. During this time she felt as though something was missing and gave up photography entirely for a couple of years. Lilian then discovered sites online which were dedicated to instant photography and 120 medium format film. She was captivated by this way of making photos, and she soon bought a Holga, returning to the basics of traditional photography, a change that felt right for her. In 2012, Lilian began to shoot instant photography, and fell in love all over again. She purchased a couple of Polaroid cameras and discovered both expired Polaroid film and the just released Impossible Project film. After shooting these films she realized that there is a certain magic in shooting instant film that nothing else compares to.

Lilian enjoys to experimenting and discovering innovative ways to utilize her Polaroid camera, like combining two different close-up lenses or a close-up lens with a motion blur filter. She has studied and experimented with many different techniques for manipulating her photos and she loves that there are no boundaries with instant film. Anything is possible. If you can imagine it, it can probably be done! After attempting many different techniques, Lilian had a wild idea! She wondered if she could take photos with a Holga on 120 medium format film and then transfer them to Impossible Project Spectra film.

Lilian's experiment went like this: She first took photos with her Holga, using Fuji Velvia 50RVP, ISO 120 medium format film. She then cross-processed the negatives to produce wildly saturated colors. After developing, she scanned the negatives and loaded them onto her tablet. She then used her Polaroid Spectra camera and a Polaroid stand-up duplicator to photograph what appeared on her tablet screen. This process obviously involved many adjustments with framing, image size, and lighting conditions. After many packs of film and tons of trail and error, she succeeded in making the first Polaroid Spectra Holga transferred images. The resulting dream like images can be seen below.

Lilian’s work has been widely exhibited.  Her work has been featured by Polaroid of the Day, the Polavoid, and published in Hylas Magazine's the Loss Issue. Her photos have been exhibited at Tête de l’Art in Rennes, France, Subway exhibition, as a part of Expolaroid 2017 and she also participated in “Are we humans or…”, a group exhibition in Beverwijk, Netherlands in 2016.  She is a second year member of the renowned 12.12 Project.

You can connect with Lilian on Flickr and Instagram.    


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Anne Silver is an instant photography aficionado who lives in Paris, France and is a member of the 12:12 Project. Connect with Anne Silver on her Website and on Instagram!