Disposable cameras and instant film have always been a part of photographer Starla Dawn's life. Growing up between rural western Kentucky and Huntsville, Starla has been using her camera to document her life and surroundings. Working in photography came to her a combination of needing to express herself in a creative outlet but also working with the fashion industry during her 20s. "Creativity is contagious," Starla says. Testing out the new HydroChrome Sutton's Panoramic Belair Camera, Starla captured beautiful panoramic landscapes on film, taking us on a beautiful trip across the warm West coast.
Hey Starla! It's great to have you here at Lomography. First off can you tell us why you still shoot analog?
I still shoot analog for many reasons, but the comedic yet truthful answer is, I’m lazy. I know nothing about the analog process is lazy BUT the thing I despise about my digital workflow is sitting in front of my computer for hours on end processing client photos. With film, I shoot it how I want it, can easily outsource the developing and scanning if I want to, and then what I get back is still the images I created with archivable and tangible negatives. No stress about recovering data or nonsense. It's simple. It is what it is.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I get inspiration from everywhere! When I was younger a lot of inspiration for projects would come from song lyrics. I used to mood board a lot but now, I have pulled back from having so many moving pieces. I like a quirk. I like for things to not always make sense or have a purpose. Now I have loose ideas and just let what happens during a session, happen. I primarily like shooting people. Portrait sessions or documentary, I personally am just more drawn to an image that has a human in it.
How was your experience using the Hydrochrome?
The Hydrochrome was fun! I had no idea what I was doing so it was truly an experience in getting me out of my comfort zone. Being that it's such a simple setup vs. what I normally work with, I completely relinquished control.
What did you like about it?
I liked the unlimited possibilities. I also liked the challenge of learning a new tool. It was mostly a game of let's see what this does, and how this will turn out. Completely experimental.
What were some of the challenges you faced while using it?
I think the challenges I had were personal. I could have pushed it more creatively and didn’t. Another challenge for me was my inexperience in shooting panoramic or even wide frame, so there was a bit of a learning curve for me to see the world in that way.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to shoot with it?
Go crazy! Don’t hold back. Experiment. Don’t take it too seriously. Also for best results fill the entire lens.
What are the mixes you tried for the liquid solution? Do you have a favorite one?
I tried still water, and sparkling water, either with food coloring. I wish I played more with color. I am sending off a roll soon with beer, where I used flash. I am eager to see how those differ. I think sparkling water was novel in thought but honestly, still, water is where it's at.
In what context do you see yourself using this camera?
Honestly, I would think if shows were still happening this could be a ton of fun backstage, or county fairs, to capture people on stilts. I would honestly probably try to use it for some wacky band promo images or banners. You could do a fun road trip series with this camera too.
From the pictures you sent us do you have a favorite?
My favorite from the rolls was the last image I shot. My friend and fellow lomographer @cinedar loved the novelty of doing a seven-inch scan. There wasn’t enough film at the end of the roll for a complete panoramic so toward the end, it's also an accidental multi-exposure. I just think it captures the vastness and chaos of the sea. Currently figuring out how to print this. It definitely needs to be printed large.