Welcome, welcome, welcome! I’m super excited to bring you all the work of Abigail Crone, instant film shooter extraordinaire and curator of the Film Shooters Collective Monthly Polaroid Roundup (amongst other awesome things).
There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll hand straight over to Abigail…
Hi Abigail, what’s this picture, then?
AC: This is a self-portrait taken in my apartment. I’m holding one of my Polaroid Land Cameras, but the photo was taken with an SX-70. It was a summer afternoon and I loved the light coming through the windows. That’s all that prompted the photo, I loved the light at just that moment.
I sometimes put a good bit of planning into a self-portrait, it may take a lot of time and more than one attempt, but it’s so satisfying when a photo is spontaneous and everything works out perfectly.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
AC: I’m an artist; I remember I had a photo taken for a newspaper because I happened to be visiting the ghost town Centralia on its anniversary, they called me an artist in the caption and I got really excited about it. I just love to create things though, that’s all it means, and I’m always getting stuck in daydreams. Sometimes I think I wish it made me money, but so far it hasn’t.
I’m a bit adventurous, I like to travel whenever I can. I’ve driven through or stayed in half of the states in the US, and I’ve been to South Korea. Next, I’ve got my heart set on Peru, I love to have travel goals, and so far I’ve been able to achieve them. The trick is travelling cheap, don’t set your heart on luxury just enjoy the experience.
I also like to call myself a “bun mom”. I have no maternal instincts to speak of except when it comes to my rabbit Posey. Call me crazy or ridiculous if you want, but she’s my child. She has her own room and a lot of toys, she’s pretty spoiled.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
AC: Film was the default when I was a kid, so I’ve been using it for a long time, but I really got into film photography seriously when digital became the norm around seven years ago I think.
I was working on a photography minor in college and had to take some film classes. I got hooked on working in the darkroom and perfecting prints. There was something so satisfying about spending hours in that college darkroom and holding a print in my hands I had finally gotten right. I moved onto instant film when I graduated and didn’t have space for a darkroom of my own. With instant film, I could still get that satisfaction of holding a print in my hands, and it’s there right away which feels sort of exciting and almost magical.
I keep shooting instant film because it happens to mesh with my style perfectly. It has a dreamy imperfect quality that matches how I see the world, how I wish it really looked. I love how unpredictable it can be too, and what that adds to my photos. I can get strange color shifts, chemical marks, and flares that can unintentionally change the whole mood of a photo and that’s fun to work with.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
AC: When I first started out I think movies and TV shows influenced me more than other photographers. I like freezing scenes that I think would be great still photographs in my mind while I’m watching. My biggest movie influences were: Daisies, Permanent Vacation, Amelie, The Double Life of Veronique, and The Secret Garden (1993 version). The only TV show is Twin Peaks. I took the time to list them all because I can think of little ways that each one of those has influenced my style (and I’m hoping you’ll check them out). I really believe that the art you choose to invest your time in is important, movies, books, photos, songs, they can completely change the way you see, think, and create.
Right now my biggest inspiration/influence are the submissions I get for the monthly Polaroid Roundup I curate over at the Film Shooters Collective. I get submissions from amateurs and professionals all over the world. No matter how skilled or what their style they’re all so dedicated to shooting what they love, and they’re all willing to put themselves out there even if their work is rejected. I see some photographers that consistently submit every single month. Those submissions always make me want to keep shooting.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
AC: I’m not really, I pretty much only shoot film. I do have a good digital camera but I don’t use it very much. I mainly do art photography, and I find that film just works best for that at least for me personally.
There’s great art photography out there done with digital cameras, but it’s just not my style. I think to make the kind of photos I do with a digital camera would require a lot of editing in Photoshop, and I don’t like spending a lot of time editing.
Film works best for what I do, and I hate doing lots of editing work on the computer, that’s mostly all it comes down to and of course, shooting Polaroid film is a lot more fun than using a digital camera.
What’s your next challenge…your next step? How do you see yourself improving your technique? What aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
AC: I could make up an impressive answer here, but I’ll be totally honest. For the past few months I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad depression, getting myself to make photos has been difficult for me. I have recently made some new work, and I feel pretty good about finding the motivation to do it.
My next step is to keep creating, that’s the most difficult thing for me right now. For the longest time, I had trouble seeing any point in it. I’ve managed to keep going though, I’ve decided the point is that the photos are for me, and I like making them, and that’s really all that matters. I’m just working on keeping that momentum going and being okay with making photos for myself.
From there I want to continue making submissions to galleries and publications regularly like I used to. I also want to put together my first zine. I only make technique type goals if they fit a project I want to do, I don’t make them for the sake of it. For instance, I wanted to make self-portraits at night where I looked like a ghost so I had a goal of learning how to create long exposure photographs. Right now I’ve been working on some double exposure self-portraits so I guess I’d say I’m working on perfecting my double exposures.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
AC: I find I’m drawn to both landscapes and cityscapes, and it really just comes from my life in Pennsylvania. My home is in the city, but Pennsylvania is a few cities surrounded by sprawling forests, it’s a place of extremes. I’ve come to love both, and I create photos of both, trees and city streets.
I make a lot of self-portraits too. I spend a good bit of time alone, so self-portraits have sort of become my way of communicating with people. I also love portrait photography, I come up with ideas for portraits I’d like to do but it’s difficult for me to find other people to help me make them. I’m a model that’s always available for my ideas though.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an unknown assignment. You can take one camera, one lens, two films and you have no idea what you’ll be shooting. What do you take with you and why?
AC: This would for sure put my anxiety through the roof, this is a difficult question. I actually wouldn’t choose instant film, instant film is too finicky if I have no idea what I’m shooting. I’d probably bring my Olympus XA2 and whatever color film I have in my fridge right now. The Olympus XA2 takes amazing photos for a point and shoot, it’s fun, it’s versatile. I think I’d feel pretty comfortable having that with me for a surprise assignment.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location for the rest of your life. What do you take, where do you go and why?
AC: I would take Polaroid 669 film. I only ever got three packs of it and I love it. I wouldn’t get tired of shooting it. I would go to northern Arizona close to the Grand Canyon. I stopped there on a road trip for a day and I think the whole area is so beautiful. I got one photo of the Grand Canyon with my Polaroid Land Camera…and I lost it, all I have now is a scan of the photo. So I’d get to make as many photos of it as I wanted to.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
AC: Hmm, probably some FP-100C at Longwood Gardens. I started using FP-100C before Fuji stopped producing it, I took for granted how cheap it was and how easy it was to get. It’s a great film, reliable vivid colors. Now it’s so expensive, I only have a few packs left to shoot and I’ll really miss it.
I would shoot it at Longwood Gardens because it’s my favorite place in the world, I mean that. I go there a couple times a year with a few packs of film. I love flowers, gardens, it’s all so serene and peaceful. I always feel happy in a garden, and Longwood is the best that I’ve found so far.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
AC: I think people see it as being way too difficult and costly. It doesn’t have to be though, you don’t have to do absolutely every part of the process old school. Technology has mixed with traditional film shooting to make it a bit easier and cheaper.
You don’t have to print all of your photos in a darkroom, you can get a film scanner (they’re really not that expensive), and then have prints made at your local camera shop. I miss working in a darkroom, but I do love how easy and inexpensive my film scanner makes using film.
As for difficulty, I would say film can be easier in a way depending on the camera you’re using. Sure not seeing what your photo will look like is intimidating at first, but with practice, it doesn’t make a difference. Digital cameras have so much you can change and control in camera now, to me film cameras feel stripped down and simple.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
AC: I don’t think everyone will ever be shooting film the way they used to, although it’s nice to see that Polaroid film has made a comeback.
The future of film photography will be where film seems most popular now, with artists, professionals, and hobbyists. Artists and professionals appreciate what film can add to their work, and hobbyists get how much fun film cameras can be.
I would love to see everyone carrying around a film camera again, but I’ve accepted that it’s a bit more niche now and I don’t see that changing.
A huge thanks to Abigail for stepping up and sharing her work with the community, it’s really appreciated. Please make sure you check out Abigail’s website, Facebook and Instagram and when you’re done head back here, scroll up and check out this interview one more time.
Thanks for reading and please make sure you check out everything that’s been going on here at EMULSIVE over the past week.
As ever, keep shooting, folks!
EMULSIVE needs you. If you’d like to take part in this series of film photographer interviews, please drop us a line, or get in touch in the comments. We’re featuring to photographers young and old; famous and obscure, so get in touch and let’s talk.