One-On-One with Barbara Astman


Artist and University Professor Barbara Astman began her career entirely using instant film! She chats with us about her love for instant photography and shares with us some upcoming works – check it out after the jump!

Untitled (Visual Narrative Series 2 of 2), via Barbara Astman

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a senior artist who is actively engaged with the art community through exhibitions and teaching. I am a Professor at OCAD U and have been teaching experimental based courses that deal with materiality and instinct and intuition. I exhibit at the Corkin Gallery and national and international museums. You can see what I am doing by going to my own website which features my public art or the Corkin Gallery website for a general overview.

You started off your photography career almost entirely using instant film. Why did you choose this medium to work with?

Instant gratification! After studying design and silversmithing which are very slow and labor intensive, the immediacy of the Polaroid camera and film was very appealing. I had certain ideas that I wanted to explore visually dealing with performative based work and the Polaroid along with the self timer felt like a good fit. I needed to see what I was doing as I was doing it and correct what needed to be corrected on the spot. I was also attracted to the saturation of the color in the SX-70, with no apparent grain. I quickly learned that I could use a 4 × 5 camera (pre- digital days) to re-photograph the instant image which allowed me to blow my work up to life size images.

What is your weapon of choice and why?

I own a variety of Polaroid cameras, in fact you might say I hoard them! I use whichever one works and am partial to the SX-70 film but will shoot on the Spectra film too. The SX-70 has a finer grain and greater color saturation, so I just find it more appealing. Once I run out of film, I will have to try out the new instant cameras on the market.

What kind of projects have you done when it comes to instant photography?

Pretty well all of my art from the early 1970’s up to the right 2002 originated as a Polaroid Instant Image, which was then either re-photographed or scanned to create a larger digital version that was shown. You can see a historical overview at and keep in mind that most of this began as an instant image.

For some of the bodies of work, the instant image was peeled apart, manipulated and layered back up on top of one another. I liked that it had the ability to become translucent or transparent depending upon how much you manipulated the peeled image.

Dancing with Che, via the Corkin Gallery

You’ve taught a course in the Ontario College of Art & Design on “experimental processes.” Do you have any tips for our community on shooting with instant film and getting the most out of it?

While always keeping health and safety in mind, you should feel free to try what ever it is that you want out of the medium which would usually be in response to a concept you are exploring.

Do you still use instant film in your works today?

Yes, I sometimes still pull out a camera and shoot with Polaroid film. I have a slow moving collage series that incorporates instant images. I tend to have the idea first then decide what medium or materials are necessary to create the idea. If the idea needs to be done with Polaroid film, then I will use it.

And lastly, any upcoming projects we should look out for from you?

Yes, I am in an exhibition at the AGO, Light My Fire: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography, Part I: until October 20 2013, curated by Sophie Hackett, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON opening in early May and during that same time period, I am in a group show at the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton. called, Flowers and Photography

In June, my installation dancing with che: enter through the gift shop opens at MOCCA, Toronto. The opening is June 21. On June 19 I have a show opening at Corkin Gallery, Toronto, in conjunction with the MOCCA show along with a “artist in dialogue” event on the Saturday June 22 at the Corkin Gallery. The Corkin show will include the original Polaroids form the dancing with che series.

- -

For more information on Barbara, check out her website

written by ashleyaang on 2013-05-02 #lifestyle

More Interesting Articles

  • Marta Bevacqua - Lomo Amigo Petzval 58

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-27 #people
    Marta Bevacqua - Lomo Amigo Petzval 58

    Our new LomoAmigo Marta Bevacqua recently experimented with the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens. She spoke about her experience with us and shared some Petzval tips as well - check out her interesting interview here!

    2016-01-27 1
  • First Impressions of the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens: Kieko

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-25 #gear
    First Impressions of the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens: Kieko

    Here's a quick chat with Kieko, a happy lomographer from Tokyo. She talks about her experience with the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens and shares some of her photos.

    2016-01-25 1
  • Lomo'Instant Wide First Impressions: Katphip

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-26 #gear
    Lomo'Instant Wide First Impressions: Katphip

    Katherine Phipps is a passionate Photography Major who obviously had a grand time with the new Lomo'Instant Wide. She talks about her instant wide experience and shares some of her favorite shots in this short feature.

  • Shop News

    Share your smartphone memories instantly with the Fujifilm Instax SHARE SP-2 Printer

    Share your smartphone memories instantly with the Fujifilm Instax SHARE SP-2 Printer

    Give your smartphone photos that analogue touch with the Fuji Instax Share Smartphone Printer! Shoot with your smartphone, send photos via the free app, and print on Fuji Instax Mini film! Both Silver and Gold version now available in the shop! *available in selected markets

  • Mighty Mini Macros: An Interview With Jennifer Hirschmann of MINI.PIC

    written by Azin Teimoori on 2016-03-21 #news #people
    Mighty Mini Macros: An Interview With Jennifer Hirschmann of MINI.PIC

    Photographer and fashion assistant Jennifer Hirschmann takes instant photography to a very unique level. We had the opportunity to chat with her about working with the Lomo'Instant Wide and Fujifilm Instax 210, as well as the inspiration behind her "instant-gram" page @mini.pic.

    2016-03-21 4
  • 366 Days in an Instant: An Interview With Wes Hodge

    written by Azin Teimoori on 2016-03-09 #people
    366 Days in an Instant: An Interview With Wes Hodge

    Between commercial work, shooting weddings, and hitting the waves, Honolulu-based photographer Wes Hodge works on his #instax366project, creating and sharing one (and only one) instant photo per day. We had the chance to chat with him about the trials of perfectionism and his first impression of the Lomo'Instant Wide!

    2016-03-09 4
  • Community Amigo Kristina-Marie Ross of Oh My Edinburgh

    written by Lomography on 2016-05-24 #people
    Community Amigo Kristina-Marie Ross of Oh My Edinburgh

    Kristina-Marie Ross is Editor of Oh My Edinburgh, a free magazine that predominantly uses analogue images. We asked her about this project and where her love for film photography began.

    2016-05-24 2
  • Shop News

    LC-A+ & LC-W Accessories

    LC-A+ & LC-W Accessories

    Combine your LC-A+ or LC-W Camera with great, fun Accessories and get 15% Discount on all Lomography Accessories when bought together with the Camera!

  • Between Past and Present: Lucie Sassiat Explores Ker Marie with the Lomo'Instant Wide

    written by lomographyfrance on 2016-06-24 #people
    Between Past and Present: Lucie Sassiat Explores Ker Marie with the Lomo'Instant Wide

    For a special project called Ker Marie, the French photographer Lucie Sassiat goes to discover an abandoned house haunted with memories, in the middle of the Britain wild landscape. She's sharing with us her project and her impressions about our beloved instant camera, the Lomo'Instant Wide.

    2016-06-24 1
  • Cynthia Estébanez, Madrid and the Petzval 85 Art Lens

    written by ellakoppensteiner on 2016-08-05 #people
    Cynthia Estébanez, Madrid and the Petzval 85 Art Lens

    Madrid, the Petzval 85 Art Lens, and the photographer Cynthia Estébanez create a magical combination. She took the lens on her latest photography escapade and shared her experience and tips with us.

  • Human Desires through the Lens: An Interview with Nathalie Daoust (NSFW)

    written by Teresa Sutter on 2016-02-15 #people
    Human Desires through the Lens: An Interview with Nathalie Daoust (NSFW)

    Artist Nathalie Daoust dives into unknown realms to explore questions around escapism. For her project “Tokyo Hotel Story” she was granted exclusive access to the Alpha-In, one of Tokyo’s biggest love hotels and spent several months photographing the dominatrixes who work there. In the following interview, she talks to Lomography about sexuality across cultures and the importance of darkroom experiments in her creative process.

  • Shop News

    Celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián

    Celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián

    Walk along the sandy shore, take a dip and splash around, and celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián! Inspired by the Spanish surf town, this nifty newest edition of the Lomo'Instant is perfect to capture your colorful instant summer snaps!

  • Collages by Jose Romussi

    written by ellakoppensteiner on 2016-08-23 #people
    Collages by Jose Romussi

    We had the chance to meet the artist Jose Romussi, known for his collages with woven photography. Discover his point of view and techniques and share your interpretation of his work with us!

  • LomoAmigo: Cat Stevens

    written by Lomography London on 2016-02-07 #people
    LomoAmigo: Cat Stevens

    London based photographer Cat Stevens uses the softer, more subtle aesthetics of film photography throughout her work. Her shoots consist of the familiar light leaks and washed out tones that most film shooters will be familiar with. She has photographed artists such as Deerhunter, PJ Harvey and recently took a series of sun drenched beach shots which adorned The Charlatans' last album cover titled "Modern Nature."

  • Meet our LomoGuru: roxyvonschlotterstein

    written by lomography on 2015-11-08
    Meet our LomoGuru: roxyvonschlotterstein

    A passion deeply rooted in her childhood, photography serves as a form of meditation and a creative outlet for Germany-based community member roxyvonschlotterstein. Aside from keeping an active LomoHome, she puts forth effort in participating in photography-related projects and activities with her fellow German lomographers. In this interview, she shares more about her memorable experiences in community, thoughts about shooting on film, and a tidbit about her LomoHome name.

    2015-11-08 29