In An Instant indeed. Ben Fraternale's YouTube Channel only started out a year ago, but quickly rose to fame within the analog community. From day one Ben delivered well-produced, funny and equally professional videos, covering everything from reviews over shoots all the way to tech deep dives. Instant was also his purchase of our LomoGraflok right after we launched it for pre-orders. And since we know pre-orders aren't instant enough for Ben, we had him test one of our early prototypes of the LomoGraflok in order to get his professional opinion on it. Here is Ben's first impression on the LomoGraflok 4x5 Instant Back.
Hi Ben, welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Please introduce yourself real quick to our readers.
Hi folks! I am a director and photographer from New York, who in a moment of insanity decided to start a YouTube channel called In An Instant. One year strong, the channel has been an absolute blast and it’s become a fresh avenue to share my photography and love for instant film. Through breakdowns of history, technique, and cameras, I’ve gotten to truly dig into this world like never before and it’s been a wondrous experience engaging with this community daily!
When and how did you get into instant photography specifically?
I was introduced to instant photography at birth (the best entry point). In fact, the earliest photo I have of myself is as a baby crawling around on Polaroid Spectra. Being raised around photographers, designers, and art lovers, we always had an instant camera to pop off with. It was much later that I discovered the use of instant film as an artistic tool and a constant accompaniment on photographic adventures.
What do you like most about shooting instant film?
I think like most people I am attracted to the tangibility and magic of this stuff. Though I grew up prior to digital, megapixels were my medium once I entered the profession. Endless pixels turned my brain a bit soft, honestly, but the moment I rediscovered instant photography I was completely activated again. The fact that you can hold a moment in time that comes to life before your eyes is an irreplaceable sensation and a joy that never fades. Digital and traditional film are great and always have their place, but the analog wonderland of chemistry in an instant print truly puts me in touch with a special kind of feeling. In fact, I might be addicted to that feeling (definitely am, for sure), but at least I’m honest and very public about it!
What are some challenges in instant photography these days?
I think the biggest challenge is the hardware. Access to glass lensed cameras gets increasingly difficult as prices for vintage cameras continue to skyrocket. And for the less expensive Instax formats, Lomography is one of the only companies offering dynamic camera options. While modern cameras by the big brands tend to cater to the entry-level point & shoot market, hardcore photographers have been struggling to make the most of their instant film, particularly Instax Wide.
What was your first thought when you heard about the new LomoGraflok 4x5 Instant Back?
I absolutely LOST IT. Then I regained my composure and I pre-ordered it immediately. I’m not just blowing smoke since we’re on Lomography’s platform here; I genuinely felt grateful that a company was finally addressing the true potential of Instax Wide and unlocking its capabilities. The fact that it also provides a new format to 4x5 cameras is spectacular for the history books - a fresh creative utility for over a century’s worth of cameras.
How was your first test shoot with our prototype?
Needless to say, it knocked me onto my buns. The very first photo that developed resolved more detail than I’d seen in hundreds (thousands?) of Instax shots I’d taken before it. Ya boy was gobsmacked. To put this format behind a large format lens completely changes the game and rejuvenates the film. Everyone I showed those shots to couldn’t believe it - “this is Instax??”
We obviously know you're a fan of instant photography. But what are your feelings about large format?
I adore large format. It’s something I was introduced to relatively recently. For Christmas in 2019 my girlfriend Lauren arranged an 8x10 shoot with Brooklyn Film Camera and I was just BUZZING. The moment we saw the developed Polaroid I knew something inside me switched and there was no going back. Now in 2021, shooting large format every week, the results still astound me. But, there is an undoubted hassle and logjam with the development process. I develop my own B&W, but the color is pricey, and the miracle of getting an instant print out of a 4x5 rig cannot be understated. Skipping the dark bag, holders, tanks, and other accouterments, and going straight to a finished instant photo is simply wild and amazing.
Do you see yourself incorporating the LomoGraflok Back into your own work in the future? If so, what would you like to shoot with it
I most definitely do! For shoots where I might have used ever-diminishing packfilm, or times where I really can’t be bothered to futz with large format celluloid, I will definitely be using the LomoGraflok on the reg. Portraits I’ve taken with it have their own kind of wonder and with the relatively low-cost of the film, I can see it really is a daily driver. The monochrome film, which I never used too often on my instant cameras, suddenly has a cinematic scope to it behind the big boy lenses. I could definitely see myself popping off more cine-style setups while shooting a film or simply for its noir aesthetic. I’m definitely hyped!
Check out Ben's review of the LomoGraflok