Parker Hill is a New York born and raised writer and director who has not only won our hearts with her breathtaking short films but also various prizes and film festival screenings. Her love for the analogue medium in film, eventually lead her to explore film photography as well, which has since influenced her creative work a lot. When we came across Parker's work earlier this year, we couldn't help but wonder what she would create on instant film, which is why we sent her a Lomo'Instant Wide to experiment with. She shared her first results with us back in April.
This summer, Parker took the Lomo'Instant Wide on a road trip down south and brought back the hot summer of the American south in a wonderful instant series. Buckle up, windows down, we're hitting the road!
Hi Parker, welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. What have you been up to since we last spoke?
It's been an exciting few months since my last Lomography series. I've made a music video for the band No Kind of Rider, I've shot a short documentary, and I've been on the road a lot this summer, all throughout the US.
This time you took your Lomo’Instant Wide on a road trip from New York to South Carolina and then from Montana to Texas. Can you tell us a little bit about the creative idea behind those trips?
The goal of these road trips was to capture adolescence in the summer, specifically teenage girls. I wanted to show the freedom of summer, where kids are unencumbered by school, curfews, strict schedules, and show a little about what their downtime looks like. I traveled with my friend and fellow filmmaker Isabel Bethencourt. Izzy is a documentary filmmaker who was interested in doing field interviews with the teens we met. I'm not sure that the project had an end game, as much as the experience was the point. So she recorded sound and I took a mix of stills and shot some Super-8 film. I think we wanted to explore a type of summer that neither of us ever had, an almost romantic notion of an American summer.
You are born and raised in New York City - what fascinates you about the American South?
I can't say there's just one thing. Maybe it boils down to the movies I grew up on, but there's something about this notion of American living that's endless inspiring to me. I feel both intimately connected to this notion, but when I'm capturing it, I feel like an outsider who's trying to understand how other people grow up.
Did you already have a certain aesthetic or even motifs on your mind before you went on the road? Or in other words, did you exactly know what you were looking for?
We didn't know exactly what we were looking for, but I had some ideas of my 'dream shots'. I would always say to Izzy, I want to find a girl sitting on the hood of a car, making out with her boyfriend at sunset in the parking lot of a dairy queen. That was THE dream. Mildly inspired by this photograph shot by stuart franklin of these two young people about to kiss in front of a Kickin Chicken sign.
You discovered photography only after you’ve already been making films. Did this new visual approach influence your filmmaking process in some way?
Photography has definitely had a huge impact on my filmmaking. For starters, all my references for motion picture projects are largely still photographs. I also think my approach to storytelling now comes from the power of a frame, or the ability of a single frame to communicate to much about the story you're trying to tell. It's incredibly important to me that the cinematography doesn't just reinforce the story, it tells part of it.
This is only the second series, since we gave you a Lomo’Instant Wide for the first time - and you nailed all of these shots! How did you experience the learning process with this camera or instant photography in general?
The Lomo'Instant Wide has been a blast to mess around with. First off on the road it was such a treat, because when you're asking strangers for a photograph, sometimes I would offer to take another and give them a copy. It was nice to share the experience of the photograph with them.
On a technical level, the first series I did on the Lomo'Instant Wide definitely taught me how to use the camera to get an image that I like. For example, I like color and I found that I enjoy the picture much more when I set the camera to under exposing by 1 stop the entire time. The highlights don't blow out as much and it keeps the color more saturated to where I like. I also learned that with such a wide lens, I like to shoot with this camera from the hip, not necessarily holding it up to my eye, but using it to capture an entire space more so than feeling like I'm pointing and shooting.
What projects are you working on at the moment, anything we can look forward to in the near future?
I'm currently editing a short documentary that came about from meeting a group of teens from Texas on this road trip. We're just in the beginning stages of the edit, but hopefully the film will be complete in the next few months.
I also have a small film of that Super-8 mm from the road trip, that's coming together very soon!
As someone who only recently started shooting instant, what advice do you have for people who want to get into it as well?
My Lomo'Instant experience has been a blast, I think because I'm not trying to shoot it like a different format, I'm shooting what this medium can do well. It handles the sky and clouds with amazing complexity and looks so dramatic. Or it captures color in a way that sometimes has a dreamlike quality. My advice would be have fun with it, and underexpose it. The scan holds more shadow detail than you think but you can't get back the highlights. Also if you're coming from analogue photography like me, it's a real treat to get to view a photograph with the subject when you take it. An experience that's new to me! I guess digital shooters get to do this all the time....
Make sure to check out Parker's work on her Website and follow her on Instagram. To hear more about her take on filmmaking and analog photography, you can listen to a wonderful interview of hers in a recent episode of the podcast Kodakery.