Wherever there's an adventure and fun photos to be taken, rest assured that Anne Hollond has that location pinned down. That's just the type of person she is — outgoing, bubbly, and totally up for the challenge. She went to this year's celebration of PolaCon — a gathering of instant and alternative photography fans from all over the US and she was more than kind to let us tag along. Well, kind of. Read on to find out more about her time on the road and her experience at PolaCon with two of our darling little cameras — the Lomo'Instant Square and the Diana F+!
What preparations have you taken for this year’s PolaCon?
The main preparations were choosing cameras and films, and getting a journal started. (Since I was road-tripping in an old truck, and camping/sleeping in the truck part of the time, I also put some thought into those aspects of the trip.) I was also scheduled to do a journaling session at PolaCon on Sunday afternoon, so I made kits and handouts for that.
For cameras and films, my top two picks were the Lomo’Instant Square and the Lomo Diana F+ (loaded with Lomography 120 film, although I’ve also used the instant mini back for it). They’re very easy and fun. The Lomo’Instant Square is my go-to camera for instant film, because it gives such fantastic results, and I’m in love with the size of Instax Square film. (I sound like Goldilocks, but Instax Mini, for me, is too small; Instax Wide is too big; Instax square is just right.) The Diana F+ also gives great results and was a perfect non-instant film photo option. I kept it hanging from my rearview mirror for quick access throughout the trip.
I also packed two Polaroid cameras (I mean, it is called PolaCon, after all), but realized they’d be limiting. The SLR 680 uses Polaroid Originals 600 film, which is expensive and doesn’t work well in extreme heat, so I didn’t want to pack/ruin/waste much of that film. The 180 uses discontinued film, of which I have a limited supply, so I brought along two packs just in case a special opportunity presented itself. As it turned out, I never once used the 180, and the photos I took with the SLR 680 had all sorts of heat-related problems. The 120 photos I took with the Diana F+ had some real winners, but my favorite photos came from the Lomo’Instant Square.
What did you expect to see at the event? What were you looking forward to doing/seeing at PolaCon?
PolaCon has been happening for the past four years, in late September in Texas. It kicks off on Friday afternoon/evening on the opening day of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas and then continues all Saturday and Sunday in Denton. The PolaCon schedule this year, as always, was packed with all kinds of unique and different events, all three days: camera walks, demonstrations, discussions, music, portraits, the documentary film “Instant Dreams”, plus plenty of great food and drinks and downtime. My favorite things about it are the opportunities to connect with fellow instant film photographers in real life, and all the creative energy/ideas swirling around.
I enjoyed having a chance to share about my approach to instant film photography (my photo journals/travel notebooks), by doing a hands-on active workshop, a “show and tell AND MAKE” time. I’m always so blown away by how other people dive right into the supplies I’ve brought and start making their own journals.
What do you like about the Lomo’Instant Square? How about the Diana F+?
The Lomo’Instant Square is compact and, at least to me, very intuitive. It has lots of creative options but is also a straightforward camera. The shots come out so crisp and clear. For bright Texas sun, the graduated ND filter was a must. That filter is such a great accessory!
The Diana F+ has a wonderful aesthetic. I love how it looks, how it feels (the simple toggle switches, the dial to change the lens focus), and the sounds it makes when you press the shutter release and advance the film. I also like the wonkiness I get when there’s some overlap between frames, and the general dreamy look of the shots (a combination of the camera and the Lomography films).
How do they complement your photographic style?
Both cameras work so well with two key aspects of my style: being in the moment, and embracing imperfections. I’m a very tactile person, which is why instant film photos, and photo journals, are so appealing and engaging. I like the experience of making photos to also be full of pleasant sensations — how things sound, how they feel, how they look — and both these cameras work well for that. (I’m also a huge fan of the Lomo LCA+, and the only reason I didn’t bring that camera along was that it had a half-done roll of Lomochrome purple still loaded, and I wanted to save it.) Although I like to slow down and put thought into each shot, I also like to accept and appreciate each shot for what it is, perfections and imperfections all together. It’s about an overall feeling that the photo contains, which goes way beyond how technically perfect (or not) it is.
Any upcoming photo projects you would like to work on?
An ongoing project is making more zines with my photos. I’m trying to stick with one format (a folded sheet of 11 × 17 paper that gives me 8 pages per zine), taking an old school /traditional approach with cutting and pasting the layouts and doing my own color photocopying. It’s a blast.
I’d like to do more slow road trips with cameras, meeting more people and seeing more of America off the beaten path. On this trip, I became smitten with old abandoned gas stations, and even created a zine using some of the Polaroid photos I made of them:
Could you name some unforgettable moments during your road trip?
The basic plan for the road trip was to drive a bright green 1976 Chevy pickup truck (named Greenie) from near Lawrence KS south through Oklahoma to Denton TX and back north again, following lesser-traveled roads I’d found on the paper maps I picked up at AAA. On the way down, I didn’t have much time to wander, but on the way back, I spent a day roaming around East Texas. (The paper maps weren’t just an analogue novelty; cell service isn’t always strong on these lesser-traveled roads, so I wanted to make sure I had a reliable way to navigate. Plus, I just like how paper maps look and feel.)
The trip lasted about a week. I traveled by myself. The truck has no air conditioning or radio, so I got a pretty strong trucker tan line on my left arm, and I had the same song (Michelle Shocked “Memories of East Texas”) running through my head the whole time. I never was bored or afraid (or annoyed by that song — if you’re going to get a song stuck in your head when you’re driving to and around Texas, might as well be that one). I was just really excited to soak up all the sights and smells as I drove along, especially when I was just meandering. Definitely looking forward to the next trip like this.
Some favorite photos and moments are: sleeping in my truck (Lomo’Instant Square camera, fuji Instax square film) which was surprisingly cozy… Big Tex neon at night (Lomo’Instant Square camera, fuji Instax square film)… the cool PolaCon group shot with Lomo enthusiast Ricardo Gutierrez’ (@existenz_photo) Lomo Spinner 360 which he let me play with (super fun!!!)… the Apache XXX drive-in movie theater (Diana F+ camera, Lomo CN400 film) which is actually still open for business, and where the owner turned on the neon above the ticket booth for me… no Texas longhorn insight, but still a great moody field in Texas (Diana F+ camera, Lomo Redscale film)… Texas bayou at Caddo Lake State Park (Lomo’Instant Square camera, Fuji Instax Square film)… The Laundry Mat (Diana F+ camera, Lomo CN400 film) which cost me $225 because I got pulled over by a cop for not properly stopping at the 4 way stop in my excitement to take the photo.