An online exhibition of instant photography by Milos Gazdic, a photographer from Serbia based in Shanghai who runs Shtrak! with his buddy Vlatko.Here, a series of instant photography images selected from eight collections shot for MISSY SKINS, will be revealed over the next month on our Instagram.
Milos and partner-in-crime Vlatko became part of the MISSY SKINS story some three years ago. Entering our lives with big hearts and cheerful spirits, guiding us with their energy, creativity and friendship, Milos and Vlatko have become an integral part of our journey.
1. Tell us a bit about your working relationship with MISSY SKINS?
I’d rather call it a friendly relationship! It’s a creative collaboration between people with quite different sensibilities, maybe that’s what makes it work well and flow so easily. It all started with that rooftop shoot three years ago, on a day when the weather was not as "California-like” as we wanted it to be, but we found our way around it. We are still riding that “we’ll find a way” ride.
MISSY shoots are also an outlet for my brother-in-arms Vlatko and I in a world of commercial photography – which takes up most of Shtrak!’s time. These shoots are like our “child”, we like observing it as it grows, evolving and changing, while ideas of how to “dress it & feed it” pour from each one of us. It feels great putting together the people you love, a cool brand, young, sweet models, film photography and a job you adore in one big shaker for that Funky Shtrak! Shake!
Since the very beginning of our collaboration, we’ve agreed that instant photos are a great medium for that fun, young and authentic MISSY SKINS vibe. They contribute to the brand image, and create an impression in a very different way from digital photography.
2. How did your love affair with instant photography start?
I’ve always been interested in so many different photography techniques, and I’m still very strongly attached to film. I have a real passion for point and shoot photography, since it feels liberating – it makes me enjoy shooting more and think less about the technical side.
I love instant photography. It might stem from my utterly impatient nature – I just cannot wait for things. I want it all and, more importantly, I want it now! Instant photography allows this indulgence, even in the days long before digital came along.
With the demise of so many instant mediums – after digital took over – I was cornered and had to search for a new solution in order to be able to shoot instant film affordably… Instax Wide came along and managed to marry the two worlds I like – snapshot approach with a fully automated camera and instant results for which you didn’t have to wait! On the other hand, with its direct flash and saturated colors, it did alter the look and feel of the shots compared to the ones I shot with other instant films and cameras, but I simply adapted to it. As Araki once said, "If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change…”
3. What does instant photography mean to you?
Ever since Mr. Land first invented instant film cameras and made them available for mass consumption back in the late 1940’s, both amateurs and professionals got hooked. So did I. For me, as for many photographers at the time, instant film used to be in essence a “screen” that was missing on the back of analogue film cameras – a way to check your framing and exposure. Then I fell in love with the fact that you have only one unique, non-repeatable copy of the shot you made… and from there it took on another meaning – it became a form of expression, to create that one unique shot.
I started by shooting smaller formats on both peel apart and integral film, and then moved to 4x5” and later even 8x10” formats. Unfortunately, Polaroid stopped making instant film which, like many, saddened me a lot. Then about two years ago Fuji, whom produced the last peel apart film, ceased production as well. These are all terrible losses to the world of instant photography. Fuji’s Instax, The Impossible Project and New55 came to the rescue, allowing instant film to live on.
4. What makes a good instant photo? What do you look for when you’re taking one?
I’d consider Instax to be a very “liberal” camera. It allows you to shoot a lot, since both the camera and film are quite affordable, almost disposable. With no need to know anything about photography and its technical aspects, it becomes a good capturing device in anyone’s hands, giving it a “plebeian” characteristic, a sort of democratization of accessible photography. It also adds a keepsake element to the shots by adding emotional value, and with their instantaneous results amplifies the excitement of the shoot experience. One might call it "Analogue Instagram", or if you want to put it differently, now you know where Instagram got its name and idea from!
So, just as one cannot define a good Instagram shot, I cannot do so for instant photos. I know that I like to see spontaneity and good vibes in these shots – but that’s me. Another viewer or photographer might enjoy completely different things. The nice thing about it is that all of us are able to create masterpieces, just like Edwin Land imagined when he created his first integral film.
In my instant snaps I tend to shoot people the most. I love being cheeky, slightly provocative, exploring the sexy side of things but through a humorous prism. When we at Shtrak! are shooting for clients we try to find a compromise between their point of view and ours as much as possible. My partner Vlatko helps in this respect a lot with his nature and approach. We let the clients inspire us, and we try to inspire them, but sometimes one has to impose some ideas too – which, it turns out, is pretty much in my nature... :)
5. What are the best instant photographers in your opinion?
Hmmm, best? Not sure about that…but here are some I like:
Juergen Teller - a photographer who used Instax quite a bit and was obviously happy that it allowed him to snap away as he would usually with his Contax T2… Check out his decade-plus collaboration with Marc Jacobs – quite a few Instax shots featured there.
Guy Bourdin - probably one of the most meticulous creators in the world of photography, who would take thousands of polaroid shots until he’d be happy with the frame and would then start shooting it on film. Nowadays those tests he did represent a way of observing the precision with which he created his iconic shots that still carry his signature controversial and glamorous look, which often stepped outside the fashion world’s safety zone.
Paolo Roversi - with his most magnificent, dreamy and ethereal fashion shots taken on large format polaroid films that belong more to the art world than fashion. Mr. Roversi even created a process which gave him a signature look by mixing two films together during shooting and developing.
Andy Warhol - a pop icon who almost “abused” all those cheap polaroid cameras but in turn created some of the most iconic instant film portraits. He also used his polaroid shots as the basis for most of his art works, which is another interesting use of instant photography when compared with say scientific, medical or forensic applications.
Sarah Moon - probably one of the first photographers that caught my attention and clearly showed me how creative and extraordinary one can be with instant film. Her "out of time" images often have a painterly, dreamy and romantic feeling to them – blurred, spacey, with those doll-like girls that look like they just came out of a fairytale.
Andrei Tarkovsky - with his amazing melancholic, ghostly images of a lost world. Very Slavic. Very poetic.
Helmut Newton, Ansel Adams, David Hockney, Mapplethorpe, Chuck Close… and many, many more played important roles in instant photography and created some breathtaking images. Instant photography played a huge part in photography between the 1950s and 2000s and it’s no wonder that many important names tried their luck with it. Hopefully with the help of The Impossible Project, New55 and of course Fuji’s Instax, instant photography will live on!
6. You have an insane camera collection, how many of those are instant cameras?
I wouldn’t call it insane from a real collector’s perspective. With maybe 400-500 cameras altogether, that doesn’t really represent a huge collection. Most of my cameras are in used shape, since I like to use my cameras too and not only look at them.
For instant photography, I would say I have around 80 to 100 instant film cameras in various formats. For the majority of my medium or large format cameras I have backs that make it possible to shoot instant film with them, so I would say at least half of my cameras in the collection are "instant film ready". Some of them were even converted, by myself or my late dad – whom enjoyed helping me do these things and was responsible for my love of photography and handicraft – into cameras that can shoot some sort of instant film even if they were not originally intended for such use.
In my collection there are only five working Instax cameras – two 500AF models, two 100 and one 200. My favorite Instax camera is definitely the 500AF because of its auto focus system, followed by the 100 because of its centrally located flash.