Lomography Team member Sarah Knoll couldn't wait to try out our first prototype of the Diana Instant Square and took it for a walk with her friend Jordan Willis in Manhattan. While she normally shoots her Diana F+ at low-lit music venues, she was eager to capture some beautiful summer portraits on the brand-new Diana-style instant snaps. We talked to her about her first impressions.
Welcome on the other side of the Lomography magazine Sarah, can you introduce yourself a bit?
Hi, my name is Sarah, I’m 22 and based in New York City. I’m a writer and photographer, and I primarily shoot live shows, but also dabble in portraiture and street photography.
What or who made you get into photography?
After taking a beginning photo class in college, I fell head over heels for film. I loved the way it looked, the physical process of developing and printing. I was really lucky and had professors who encouraged me to investigate different forms of experimenting with film and analog processes. Ever since then I’ve been shooting film non-stop.
You work a lot in low light settings photographing live music events, what has been your experience photographing with those settings?
At first, when I started shooting shows, it was a struggle. But after countless rolls of film coming out blank, I kind of honed down my own process of pushing film and shooting at a certain f-stop and shutter speed. It’s tough when everything is happening so fast and all at once to capture those right moments, those bursts of energy, but I’m a music lover first. When I see a band, I kind of feel out the energy of the performance and shoot accordingly. I think a lot of photography, especially film photography is about intuition, and if you follow that you will yield great results.
What draws you to film, what qualities does it possess that you're attracted to?
I always have been attracted to grainy and rough looking stuff. I find that film has an un-matchable quality to digital. There’s a thrill of getting your roll back and seeing your negatives for the first time that digital doesn’t possess. Yes, you can simply just tape over your screen on the back of your digital camera to get the same effect of not looking at your screen constantly, but film is so much more than being blind to your final image. It’s a physical process and a chemical one that is under your control. It’s not a file or a bunch of megapixels, but this beautiful thing you can hold in your hand and scratch into, destroy, embellish, that isn’t as achievable as digital. I find that film just brings its own look to the table, and that look is something that I think just can’t be done on a digital platform.
Have you worked with instant photography before? If so, what's been your experience? What do you like to shoot on instant film?
I have, I’ve shot with the Lomo’Instant Square Glass and loved it. I think there is a cool gratification to having something in your hand immediately with a hazy quality. I also love the Lomo’Instant Wide, it’s a little bulky but also this masterful camera where you can shoot all kinds of stuff with. I like to do a lot of my portraiture with instant film, just take a camera, shove it in my backpack and go for it. The colors you get with instant film come out super cool and vibrant, so I love shooting against murals and colorful places with it.
How'd you like shooting with the Diana Instant Square? What qualities did you enjoy about the camera?
I love how much control you have of your photographs. Never have I worked with an instant camera where you can control your aperture. The ability to do multiple exposures is something that I really enjoy. I also like a lot that you can switch the lenses so you can shoot in any kind of setting or way you want to. Having a detachable flash is also great for those cool night shoots. It’s super durable too so I don’t feel like I’m shooting with a brick, but I’m also not scared for my life if I drop it by accident.
Based on your experience with the camera, where do you see yourself using it?
I can 100% see myself using it on more portrait shoots like this one. Possibly shooting a show with it could be really cool. I feel like it has all the qualities to shoot in just about any location so I want to test it out more once I get mine in the mail.
If you had to pick a song or album to describe The Diana Instant Square, what would it be?
There’s so so many songs/albums, I don’t know if I can choose! So I’ll just drop a few:
“Nothing But Love” – Just Friends
“Salad Days” – Mac DeMarco
“Hoodwink’d” – LVL Up
“TOUR TAPE” – American Pleasure Club
What advice would you give to new users of The Diana Instant Square?
Follow your intuition, make mistakes, and learn from them. Try something out that makes you uncomfortable. Also, bring more film than you think you’ll use.