Julia Beyer is a reference for instant photography at an international level. Her eye-catching visuals, her constant experiments with emulsions and treatments in which many years of experience come into play, make her one of the most admired photographers in POTD.
– Julia, beyond your surrealist scenarios, how do you describe your photographic style?
It’s always so difficult to describe your own work. I would say it’s mainly dreamy, sometimes dark and often introverted. I guess it is not as easily accessible as the work of more successful Polaroid photographers, but I’m fine with that.
My photography is the undiluted essence of my inner world and my subconsciousness… and most of all it’s an urgently needed escape from reality for me.
– How can you describe the creative process behind your photographic series?
It really depends on the subject. My main areas are landscape photography (when I travel) and shooting with models. When I travel, I try to imagine the landscape beforehand and what film or tools would fit to it and pack accordingly because I can only take so much equipment with me and I prefer to pack light.
When shooting with models, I let myself influence mostly by the model and try to find an idea in my pool of concepts that fits to her and that I would like to realize – I actually use Pinterest a lot to create moodboards for each photo shoot.
And as Polaroid Originals film gets more and more ‘perfect’, I often alter images with filters a lot – or I use expired film. I mostly don’t want to show the scene as it is but prefer to add a dreamlike dimension to it.
Your facet as a singer is very linked to the world of photography. Did being a singer of the band Chandeen inspire your work as a photographer? Or is photography the one that supported inspiration as a singer?
Actually, those are intensely intertwined. I only got into instant photography because I got to know French Polaroid photographer Emilie Lefellic through my band. She did a wonderful music video for one of our songs and after that I grew familiar with her Polaroid work. I fell in love with it and a few years later, I bought my own first instant camera. And now I certainly contribute the artwork photography for our releases – which is really amazing, because during the creative process all goes hand in hand and fits seamlessly together. The artwork complements the music and the other way round.
What is the technique of instant photography with which you feel most comfortable?
I really love shooting integral film because honestly packfilm is quite a mess and I also think I am not very good in using it. I have never been very satisfied with most results. I love the aesthetic of expired packfilm, but somehow I never grew that fond of it. Nevertheless I certainly contributed to the packfilm crowdfunding campaign of Doc! When shooting integral film, I love to use crazy filter stuff to create surreal effects. I use everything I can find… most preferably pendants from crystal chandeliers or colour filters or both.
But I also love to try out new things, so when I see a new technique somewhere, I can’t wait to try it out myself or sometimes I try out new ways to manipulate the image.
Apart from filters, I like using roller or cartridge manipulations, but it’s something that I still have to improve my skills in.
How do you see the future of instant photography?
I love to see the current development of instant film. The sales numbers of instant cameras are significantly increasing during the last few years. But I think apart from the cheaper Instax alternative, it will always stay some sort of niche, in relative terms.
Nevertheless, it’s reassuring to see more and more young people turn to analogue and instant photography because many of them are fed up with the fast pace and overstimulation of the digital world.
Instant photography will hopefully always be there because there are many crazies like me – just being proven by the successful packfilm crowdfunding campaign by Doc Kaps.
What photo is needed in your portfolio to be complete?
I hope that my portfolio is never complete, because if it were I could stop shooting and this is a thought that is frightening me. Also people evolve and so does the art they create. The photo I would perhaps consider perfect now is most likely very different from my imagination in 20 years!
If you could give advice to the new generation of photographers, what would it be?
Never stop shooting. Even if the initial results may be frustrating, it is so worth sticking to it! And never stop asking in the instant community – they are the most kind, supportive and helpful bunch of people I was lucky enough to encounter.
Never stop shooting.