Photographer: Oleksandr Tymkanych's Series Fantasyland

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Oleksandr Tymkanych is a 24 year old Ukrainian artist who lives and works in the Czech Republic. Oleksandr showed interest in the medium of photography from a quite young age and thus decided to study at the Secondary School of Applied Arts. When he later on went to University he discovered the Polaroid! He was fascinated by this new photographic expression after attending a workshop in Slovakia. He was captured forever! He has experimented with SX70, Spectra, SLR 680 and is currently working with- the starting to become obsolete- Fuji FP-100C film.

“Instant film immediately fascinated me. The magic of instant photography is today a very special feeling for me with a unique work of a material that has specific qualities; slight blurring, not too distinctive colors, and unmistakable qualities of a chemical process that cannot replace anything else. Even though someone may consider these qualities as a particular mistake or disadvantage when working. I try to use them for my own benefit; a seemingly separate process that does not interfere with it and influence it in any way. This is a very wide area for me to experiment with the instant material in the way of lighting itself, influencing the exposure and in various ways of developing photographs.”

His main interest is to work with expired material and be prone to surprises they can offer. He is always trying to find new ways to work with these materials and push the limits of the production to new intriguing ways in order to obtain extraordinary results.

Oleksandr’s series entitled Fantasyland is about a land of imagination, hope and dreams. Times, boundaries, are unknown in this imaginary world and the artist invites us to discover the unique inhabitants of unknown origins and location. Fantasyland is a series of constructed landscapes exhibiting great colour alternation and creating a playful atmosphere between objects and shadows.

The series is created with a Polaroid SX-70 camera and film; made up of 20 images presenting, in this imaginary land of no time or boundaries, a series of imaginary creatures creations of the artist’s imagination. “I use instant film to create emotive abstract still life. The result is two combined series of constructed landscapes and imaginary animals. The series, called Fantasyland, was created within the framework of a university project entitled "Animals". The process of the creation of these images was quite complicated. In order to create individual still life first I had to make backgrounds. I used mostly simple materials which I had around me – paper or cloth and then I started creating special surroundings for each image. I constructed it with natural materials like flowers, wooden pieces, stones etc. The last step was to create creatures that could exist in this surrounding and inhabit it. To create these creations, I most often used different types of wires, latex, and gips. Then they were shaped by hand like small statues. Lighting on these images is the most important thing. I used a variety of light sources, from colour filters, small hand lights, led lights and etc... I decided to use instant film because I want to express that everyone should develop their imagination. With this series I let mine run wild. Each of these photographs should draw the audience into their environment and devour them into the world of imagination. I knew that these properties offer me only a Polaroid SX-70 because it has ISO 125 and I can experiment with longer exposure time.”

Most of Oleksandr’s current projects, whether it is a school project or his own free project, he tries to work with classical materials. Oleksandr is inspired by his everyday experiences, feelings and surroundings, for instance movies and music. He dreams of travelling abroad after his studies.

Even though quiet young, Oleksandr has been published in the book Eighteenth Harvested, a book produced by the department of Advertising Photography at Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic in April of 2016. He has participated in the exhibitions at Polagraph Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic as apart of their Material exhibition in July of 2016 and at Slovakia HalmiSpace as a part of their Polaroid exhibition in September 2016. He also been featured online at PolaroidLove.cz and DesignMagazin.cz.

Nowadays, he is focusing on his bachelor work, which will be dedicated to instant photography. But, of course he still works on new smaller projects with instant material such as FujiFilm FP-100C and Polaroid SPECTRA. “I have a great interest on expired films; I hope to present some of these projects in the future. And who knows maybe someday I will be able to use instant film for advertising work!”

You can connect Oleksandr on Instagram! 


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Lina Manousogiannaki is a visual artist based in Brussels, Belgium. She is a passionate Instant photographer and an editor of the Urbanautica online visual platform. Connect with Lina Manousogiannaki on her website and Instagram!


Q&A: Expired Eight /w Christopher Thomas

This is the 24th 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 Christopher Thomas! 

Christopher Thomas, born in 1961 in Munich and a graduate from the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Fotografie, has received a number of international awards as a commercial photographer. His photo reportages have appeared in magazines such as GeoSüddeutsche Zeitung MagazinStern and Merian.

As an artist, Christopher Thomas has established a reputation above all through his city portraits. The first of his cityscapes was Munich Elegies which was exhibited at the Museum of Photography in Munich in 2005 (published by Schirmer/Mosel, 2005). This was followed by the series New York Sleeps that he worked on between 2001 and 2009. The companion publication, New York SleepsPhotographs by Christopher Thomas, was published by Prestel in 2009 (6th edition 2012) and was awarded the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis (German Photobook Prize).

In 2010 Christopher Thomas photographed amateur actors during rehearsals for the Passion Play in Oberammergau. The result was a cycle of 56 portraits that are reminiscent of paintings by Old Masters that exude the spirit of the Play. The volume Christopher Thomas. Passion. Photographs of the Passion Play, Oberammergau was published by Prestel at the same time. Christopher Thomas received several awards for this cycle such as the Silver Medal of the Art Directors Club of Germany (2011) and the German Design Award (2013). The Bavarian National Museum in Munich exhibited a wide selection of photos from this cycle from October 2011 to April 2012 in its magnificent Gothic Hall.

The following two volumes of photographs were also published by Prestel Verlag: Venice in Solitude (2012) and Paris. City of Light (2014).  Most recently Engadin (2015) was presented in conjunction with two exhibitions in St. Moritz.

Works by Christopher Thomas can be seen around the world in well-known photography galleries and at trade fairs, as well as in major private and institutional collections such as the Francois Pinault Collection, the Sir Elton John Photography Collection and the German Bundestag Art Collection.

You can connect with Christopher Thomas on his website!

Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it:
30 years ago I started as a stillife and advertising photographer, for 20 years I did car campaigns and in order to judge arrangements and exposure we shot polaroids before exposing film. especially for long exposures we used polaroid type 55 because it has the same schwarzschild-behavior as the film does. I found it always sad to throw away the beautiful negative and in 1999 I started my first own project on Polaroid, the book „Muenchner Elegien“ (Munich Elegies).

What attracted you to Expired Film. What's your favorite to use? 
When I started that project the film was not expired. only after 2008, when it was not produced any more, it became expired film.I love the type 55 and I used it for everything - portraits, stills, landscape. when it went out of production I bought material for more than € 50,000.— , bought several fridges which I placed in the cellar of my studio and I still have some - not much - left. but to answer your question: I love the unpredictability uns unregularity of expired film - it has character as everything that ages.

How do you describe your work and how do you decide what subjects to photograph? What sorts of things capture your attention?
I did several city portraits. I started with the series about munich - not planning to do a book but rather as a balance to my assigned work. after it got so much attention and after it was sold out quite quickly I produced my second book „New York Sleeps“. Also here I at first did not intend to present it publicly but I got an offer from Steven Kasher gallery in New York to show it and the publishing house Prestel offered to do the book. The first edition was sold out after 3 months and now it is in 6. or 7. edition. Those books were followed by „Venice in Solitude“, „Lights of Paris“ and now „Lost in LA“. All are portraits of cities in peace, long exposure, without people and if possible without cars.

What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film in this format?
One point obviously is getting it at all if it went out of production years ago. second is the price and third: the chemistry starts to dry out and in the dark areas the film develops a fungus. so now most of the time the film sticks to the sheet holder and doesn´t want to come out. this takes patience if you stand somewhere, have beautiful light and you cannot shoot immedeately.

What types of Instant Cameras do you own?  Which One is your favorite and why?
I do own an sx 70 but I always used large format sheet film in cameras like sinar, cambo, deardorff and linhof. my linhof got stolen during my shoot in paris so now I use a cambo and a deardorff. I like all of them for their own character.

Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
relax and go with the flow. accept the fact that things do not always turn out as you expected and that of course is the charm in using instant film.

When you are not shooting expired Polaroid film, what film are you shooting and why?
I use roll film because I own a linhof technorama and that works with rollfilm. I did a book about the engadina with this. but I am not religious and I also shoot digital if necessary.

Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
I would not judge a photographer by the film, the camera or the technique he or she uses but by their results. My gallery in london, Hamiltons gallery, just before my present exhibition showed the work of roger ballen and I really love his work. but I do not know what camera or film he uses nowadays.


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Michael Behlen is a photography enthusiast from Fresno, CA. He works in finance and spends his free time shooting instant film and seeing live music, usually a combination of the two. He is the founder of PRYME Editions. Connect with Michael Behlen on his Website and on Instagram!