UK-based Alia Sheikh is used to being behind the camera. When she isn't working as a filmmaker and Senior Development Producer at the BBC Alia likes to experiment with photography. She backed the Kickstarter campaign for the Petzval 85 lens and has moved on to Instant photography as a way of documenting her travels.
Point. Shoot. The Lomo'Instant Wide camera does its thing, the ﬁlm does its thing. A minute later, you're holding a developed photograph. That's all. That's not all. Travels with an instant camera seem to take on a surreal quality. Previously taciturn friends are suddenly somehow quite able to pose against a dramatic backdrop. Total strangers become friendly acquaintances in the time it takes for a rectangle of white photo paper to ﬁll up with an image.
Something about being immediately able to hold the results in your hand seems to make everyone more willing to experiment and I hear 'can we take one more?' more often than 'will you give it a rest already?'. For that alone I would love this camera. It's stranger than that though. I spend longer looking for photos and then take a fraction of the stills I normally would. Mistakes are costly (only 10 shots!) so I take a lot more care, take a deep breath and take only the photos I really want.
I'm glad I know something about composition and lighting because that's the only way I'm going to get to control the image here. I always become a better photographer for it. The image is never quite pin sharp, always a little washed out, the contrast a little softer than in real life and the colours more muted than the ones my eyes are seeing. My friends all start to look like time travellers that forgot to change out of this century's clothes and, when I get home, I have a pocketful of photos that are clearly from the time we were all in a 70's road movie. The camera lies. Beautifully.