Danish photographer Stella Gelardi Malfilatre is now based in the UK and tested out the Diana Instant Square for us around the streets of London.
Hi Stella, welcome to the magazine, tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a 34 year old Danish woman living in London on my almost 5th year. I live with my best friend who I have created a grown up modern ladies life with. I initially came here because I was a little bit bored back in Copenhagen, as lovely as it is. I felt like I needed more challenges and wanted to live somewhere, where I could tailor my creative career a bit easier (not that it is easy here at all haha). I managed to get myself in to The Royal College of Art in my first year living here which really helped me define my practice. I hadn't studied before, so being an art student was in general very new and challenging and I had to learn how to look at my creative self in a more academic and serious way. Was hard but also made me take my work seriously, so I'm super grateful for that experience. I have since then worked as an overall visual communicator i'd call it. I work with photography, research, documentary journalism and creative production. I work for the amazing Accent Studio/Magazine which is not only a team of people I really identify with but also a story telling platform filled with stories that I love dearly. Accent is a global celebration of life lived outside the ordinary, so I get to work on stories about people who are super inspiring and pushes my brain to remember that I never need to settle for less. I need to continue to explore life and my options because sometimes (often) anxiety will get the better of me and I forget what im good at and who I am - and these stories keeps me on my toes.
How would you describe your photographic style?
People always tell me it is quite intimate. People I photograph - a friend or a commissioned portrait shoot always tell me they feel like I capture them exactly as they are, and that they have never felt like that on a shoot before. That makes me feel happy! I guess if I had to describe it myself my style is honest, instinctive and driven by my emotions. Like I have to feel a connection to the person I am photographing. I can't really explain it. Sometimes I just point at something and press the button and I dont really know why I just have to do it. I work mostly in a documentary kind of style and actually always struggle on a commission, because as soon as it feels too structured I feel this weird disconnect and that clashes with the fact that I'm often booked for my personal style, but then that personal style often happens in the spur of the moment. But I reckon I will be looking for that balance to work out forever, which is probably good for developing my style constantly.
Have you ever worked with instant photography before, what has been your experience?
Yeah I have used instant photography since I was quite young. I think being a photographer who 99% shoots film only it is only natural I will have a love for instant photography. I am a very tactile person, so I love that I get to have a physical photograph straight away. I dont think I will ever get sick of it. I used to shoot disposable cameras as a teenager to document life and friends around me, so as soon as i could afford it I also got myself instant cameras. I use it for private and work use. I love using it on shoots out and about to document and I love using it just as an every day life documentation tool.
How did you like working with the Diana Instant Square?
I liked that it is quite quirky. I had to get to know it a little bit to begin with. But I love that about these sorts of cameras. You need to play with lenses, light and angles and that way it becomes and object that you personalise it, which I really love. I liked the square format as it made me think a bit more about my compositions as well. The pictures came out quite soft which is different to other instant cameras I have worked with.
Where do you see yourself using the Diana Instant Square, what kind of shoots or situations?
I will use it for the work I do with musicians and for nice little quirky tactile images to my portrait shoots mostly. I would use it with the 50mm lens for sunny shoots work wise. I really like how the light comes out when using that lens in lots of light - the colours come out really soft which I love. Im really exited to see how the colours of backdrops are going to come out when using it in studio lighting. All tho one thing I do use instant cameras for is often to gain new inspiration. I often take it on an aimless walk when I feel like I am not using my eyes like I normally would in terms of how I look at the world around me. Because there isn't a huge amount of shots on one film it forces me to really look a things around me and choose my image properly. I love making little series that fits together and then it actually really stimulates my creative soul again haha
What advice can you give to new users?
Just have fun with it! There will be a few failed images because you need to get to know it and make it your own. Just spend a little time playing with the different lenses in the same sort of light and you will love it forever.