Pencil, poster paint and household paint on book cover.


Louis Reith

Don't you just hate it when you come across an artist who is doing exactly what you want to be doing, only, they are doing it better?

I am not a photographer

[Times Square, New York. November 2010]

I carry a small digital camera with me at all times (because it is also my phone) which allows me to photograph anything that interests me throughout my day. These photos are never really thought about. The light source, focus and composition are never calculated. Partially because digital advancements in photography mean that the camera automatically considers most of these factors for me. Also, partially because I see these images as throw-away. If a photo is bad, I can delete it and take another. But usually I won't because they wont be used for any real purpose anyway, they are only a form of self documentation. Almost like a personal log of what I have been doing, what I have seen.

I bought my first polaroid camera about four years ago. Frustrated by the fact that all the photographs taken by me, my friends and family were shot on digital cameras. Once shot, destined only to be uploaded to the computer and most likely forgotten about. Generally only ever shared via use of a social networking site (I do think this is a wonderful technological advancement revolutionising the way people interact with each other, however there is also something terribly cold and impersonal about it). Due to the generation which I had grown up in, I was generally unfamiliar with any sort of camera other than digital, which has been designed and evolved (and continues to evolve) in an aim to eradicate imperfection. The majority of cameras available to the general public all have automatic features which allow even the most inexperienced user to take perfect photos at the press of a button. Through taking photos with an instant polaroid camera I was suddenly thrilled to be stuck with the flaws of an imperfect photograph!

On the first day I took my camera out to experiment with, a friend and I went to a well-known Aberdeen park. It was fairly late in the afternoon and the sun was low in the winter sky. I considered the scene carefully, looked through the viewfinder and positioned the composition carefully so a leafless tree was positioned nicely on the far right hand side of the frame. As a small boy on a bike rode across the grassy square I hastened delay and pulled down the shutter for the first ever time.

The next few minutes were filled with giddy excitement. I had researched effectively and knew to carefully place the undeveloped photograph into my warm pocket and leave it for a few minutes until it had reached full development. (This small time period of pure anticipation has never ceased to be exciting with each photograph I have taken since.) After a short walk to the next potential photograph location it was time to reach back into my pocket and uncover my creation.

I was instantly mesmerised with the results. The photograph was broken down into a trio of vertical rectangles of varying saturation depending on their proximity to the sun. The entire photograph had a washed out pinkish tinge, nothing like the green and blue scene in front of us. Silhouettes of the boy and the tree were tethered to the earth with long, stretched out, black shadows. The tree had a white bullet-wound through it due to the reflection of the sun against the lens. It was of its own creation. Everything about the photograph told us that it had been taken by some sort of machine. Something that cannot comprehend the power of nature, and must break it down accordingly, in the only way it knew how.

This is perhaps what I love about instant photography. It doesn't lie about what it sees. It can only interpret the scene so far and immediately spits out its findings. Of course with time you begin to understand what sort of light sources will have which effects but some of my first photographs are still some of my favourites, particularly the ones from that day. You can only calculate the input so far, then you have to let intuition take over. And then probably, the machine will disregard your intuition and do what it wants anyway.

As soon as the machine spits out that photograph, you are burdened with an object. It is not just an image, a representation of something else, but it is a physical object in its own right. Of course you can then reproduce this image and upload it to your preferred social networking site, treating it as just another image documenting an aspect of real life. But you can never get away from the fact that it started as an object and ultimately will always be its own object with its own purpose.

I don't take polaroid photographs very often. Of course, its very expensive to take them in frequency, having to hunt out old film on ebay (When I first began buying this product, the price usually worked at around £1 per exposure, however nowadays its more likely to be £2-£3.) I tend you use it only when sightseeing abroad, or very occasionally at special events. Putting the money aspect aside, I take into account that whatever is photographed becomes final. It becomes a sacred object. Therefore I am more likely to consider the importance of the image I am about to take. Is it something I am going to want to remember always? Is it something I'm going to take great pride in passing around a group of friends. Is it something I'm going to want to present proudly in my home?

Digital images are disposable. Take a picture, you don't like it, delete it immediately and try again. You can take any number of photographs of the same scene in aim for perfection and none of them become remarkable, due to the shear accessibility of them. Images that are less doctored, less patently crafted and that are more naively formed instantly demand more attention. Instant photography may be a dying art form but for these reasons I am safely assured that it is going to stick around for a long time to come.


the power of super 8

No matter what the footage is of, everything seems to look better (feel better, sound better) in 8mm film.

Something about the rawness, the organic reality of it just makes it feel so pure. Untouched, unedited, as if it has grown itself over time.

Ignorance, naivety.
Innocence, beauty.

(Mute all of the videos, except the last. Play them all simultaneously (except the first) and scroll the page up and down taking them all in slowly. Perfect.)


new camera

Apart from not really.

Bought this from ebay last summer.
This is the first and only photo I've taken using it.
You can tell from the photo that I don't really know how to use it.

The other polaroid cameras I have used have only had the sliding light/dark control, close up lens on/off and flash on/off controls. Here we have autofocus and self-timer. Insanity! I have no idea what the musical note means. Googling; commence.

I really like that one of the previous owners has marked their initials on the top.

David Eric Harrison
Diane Elizabeth Hardy
Daniel Edward Hall
Deborah Elaine Henderson
Demitri Eugene Harvey
Deirdre Edna Huckleberry?


and when I did it, I felt very perverse

"I always thought of photography as a naughty thing do do - that was one of my favourite things about it."
- Diane Arbus

(Quote from Susan Sontag's book "On Photography". Images from google. Because I'm lazy.)



Ok, so Easter week off of uni actually did turn into Easter week off of uni. I have read none of the books I was supposed to read and made none of the drawings I had intended to. Instead I have been catching up with friends, drinking too much alcohol and vaguely trying to organise my belongings.

It has been nice.

Today was my brother's 18th birthday so I spent the day with family, eating too much food and looking at old photographs. (I also managed to snag a cheap dress while passing time before my bus. It makes me feel like I'm 6 again, in a totally good way.)

On Monday I can start feeling guilty.


charity shop finds

Some of my favourite things I've picked up over the past couple of weeks.

1. Books with delightful, illustrated covers. The original intention in buying these was to make sketchbooks out of them. However, realistically they will most likely just hang out on shelves and look nice.
2. Ankle length skirt and cropped blouse; both ugly floral. I'm now really loving how disgusting they look paired together. How many people can I offend by wearing this outfit?
3. Pretty, oriental vase. This will be gifted to my mother for mother's day. It cost me £1. Its the thought that counts, right?
4. My new lollipop holder. Not as pretty as my last one which died in a precariously placed cider can incident, but it is still sort of beautiful.

There's something a little bit magical about shopping for second hand items. Like hunting for treasure.

This coming week is supposed to be Easter week off of uni, but my schedule is filling up rather fast. Mostly with pleasant activities, admittedly. But there's a substantial amount of uni work to fit in between the fun periods also. It'll fly by, and soon it will be Summer. Time is scary. I swear it moves at a different pace than it used to.