Q&A: Expired Eight /w Sean Rohde

This is the sixth 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 Sean Rohde. Connect with Sean on Flickr!

Tell us about when instant film came into your life and what inspired to you to keep using it:
     I actually had a Polaroid camera when I was a kid, A Super Shooter, but mostly took photos of gerbils, friends, and stuffed animals. The current usage started with toy cameras, the Holga and Diana, around 2004. I had a friend that was shooting Polaroid and liked the look of it. Got a Square Shooter and put a Colorpack front on it so I could shoot 87 along with 88 with the same camera. I shot mostly square format for the first year and then picked up a Colorpack III for Type 100s, then a 195. I haven’t stopped shooting Polaroid since.

How would you describe your work?
Polaroid shots of things I see. Lots of decay, lots of photos of things we walk by without noticing most of the time.

What types of Instant Cameras do you own? Which One is your favorite and why?
I’ve had many, many Polaroid cameras. My favorite and regular go-to camera is the 190 with an ND filter. I like the manual control and it just shoots better than the automatic cameras. I was using my SX-70 a lot, but expired 600 film is pretty grainy and ugly, and I haven’t gotten into Impossible Project film much because I have plenty of peel-apart to use up.

What attracted you to Expired Film. Whats your favorite to use?
All Polaroid film is expired now, so I don’t have much choice but to use expired film. I’m not so sure it is specifically expired Polaroid that I am attracted to rather than just Polaroid film. But I do like some of the color shifts and general unpredictability of it. One pack is very different from the next. I’d be happy if I could get non-expired Polaroid film, but I’m still happy to be using any Polaroid film.

What are the main difficulties and hurdles obtaining and using expired film?
Dry packs are the worst. Some film seems to last forever. I have beautiful Type 669 from 1989, and I have film that I bought myself and stored properly and it barely works. Unpredictability is good unless it means the film doesn’t work. I usually have to make sure I’m exposing properly with the first shot or two because some film is very dark and some overexposes.

Any tips for those interested in experimenting?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when buying expired film online. Ask the seller to shake the pack...if it sounds like sand, it is dried out. Other than that it’s really a crapshoot. I find that most film I buy works to some degree. I tend to steer away from film older than 1999, unless there is proof that the film works. As for shooting, just shoot a lot! You will get better at exposing and learning to work with the oddities of expired Polaroid, letting the film work for you rather than fighting to get something you like.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/publications?
Not currently, though I am slowly considering a self published book of Polaroid shots in the near future.

Do you have any instant photographers that inspire you?
There are photographer I enjoy quite a bit that use film in general. There aren’t many “famous” photographers that shoot instant, and the few that do aren’t specifically inspirations though I do enjoy the work. I have a couple friends that shoot instant whose work I enjoy quite a bit. I mostly just shoot how I shoot without any exact inspiration...I don’t mimic anyone’s style on purpose, though I’m sure it is comparable to some.