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!


Announcement: Artist Selection for the PRYME Editions 2017 Annual Journal!

Cover by  Matt Smith

Cover by Matt Smith

We are excited to announce that The PRYME Editions 2017 Annual Journal was successfully funded on Kickstarter on July 24th, 2017! The Kickstarter Campaign reached 125% of our funding goal with a total of 144 backers contributing $8,181 USD to purchase 164 copies of this first-of-its-kind publication. As a result of our readers' support, we will be able to bring our 2017 Instant Photography Annual Journal to life! This means that every single of our backers will get to hold 175+ pages of instant photography magic in their hands at the end of this year. 

If you missed the chance to back our Kickstarter Campaign, or you want to order an additional copy, you can still pre-order your copy of the The PRYME Editions 2017 Annual Journal right here on our shop! Don't wait, because pre-orders will end 10/15/17 and this publication will only be printed once!

The PRYME Editions 2017 Annual Journal's artist lineup has been finalized and the selected artists are guaranteed to tantalize and satisfy viewers' visual-aesthetic senses! We are proud to present seventeen instant film photographers from around the globe - from Europe and Great Britain to the USA and Germany- each exploring various methods for using the medium we love in individual, creative ways.

Featured are four in depth interviews: Brian Henry will take us on a tour of his dangerous urban exploration adventures of desolate abandoned buildings and hospitals in the East Coast of the U.S., as well as Europe and the Balkans. Matthew O'Brien's series, No Dar Papaya, will change your perception of Columbia from a country often portrayed as violent and lawless to a fascinating, beautiful country, with tremendous geographic and cultural diversity. Polly Chandler explores her experiences, emotions, and quest for purpose via through her series, You Build It Up, You Break It Down, a series of images inspired by the lyrics of singer-song writer Tom Waits. Lastly, we will talk with Carmen De Vos, a purveyor of exquisite photographic peculiarities, and founder and editor-in-chief of the late TicKL-Magazine, about her decades long career as a photographer, columnist, and art lover. 

Also included in this publication is the work of 13 other outstanding instant film photographers:
Matt Smith shows us the vibrant surf culture of the UK with his expired pack film photography; Daniel Stein explores the stars as the world's first instant film astro-photgrapher; Walter Sans takes us into his commercial studio where he still shoots expired film for huge corporate clients; Herr Merzi captures and evokes emotion with his moody intimate fine art nude photography; Bastian Kalous explores the world above us in the mountains and forests of Europe, capturing the very essence of freedom and adventure with his large format expired film scenes; Toby Hancock takes us back in time and manipulates the world around us with his Polaroid SX-70 manipulated images that make us question reality; Ina Echternach composes Impossible Project Film composites that bring us into a literal window into her abstract vision of natural beauty;  Michael Kirchoff examines our primal instinct for solitude and the need to experience profound natural wonders with his series Sanctuary, a series of images representative of home, and finding beauty in the often darker and fractured recesses of the mind; Thomas Zamolo analyzes the important role our childhood plays in who we will transform into once we reach adulthood with his 8x10 black and white series Becoming; Megan Thompson traverses the world of the Los Angeles music scene, giving us a glimpse into the world of famous musicians through her series Pictures of My FriendsClay Lipsky's dreamy double exposure series Illuminated which features textured landscapes intertwined with the female form that elate and elevate the timeless artistic allure and complexities of both; Dan Isaac Wallin invites us on a journey of the Icelandic country side displaying fairy-tale like visions of waterfalls, mountains, and coastline; 
Francesco Sambati captures the pleasant melancholy of his home time, the sea-surrounded Lecce, Italy, which is normally associated with  joy; but is often left abandoned, resulting in barren streets, empty beaches and deserted nature herself. 

In sum, The PRYME Editions 2017 Annual Journal offers seventeen international instant film artists, with more than 200 instant film images over 175+ pages. This publication will embark readers on a photographic journey around the world and show them a vast landscape of mountains and oceans across multiple countries, the desolation of abandon cities and towns, the intimate spaces of private photographic studios, the adventures of the Southern California music scene, and the wild and other worldly interpretations of the instant photographs we have come to know and love.


CONNECT

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!