An actor by day, a producer, director, and musician by night, Adam Goldberg is mainly known for his performance jobs. But he also has a passion for being behind the camera as well, especially when it involved Instant Film! His fascination with analogue photography and his passion for sharing this art with his children is easily reflected in the shots he takes. Shooting large format for over a decade now, Adam has tried almost each and every variation of a large format camera manipulated to use Instax Wide. But testing out the LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back, Adam got a new perspective on shooting Instax with large format, which is going to make it hard to shoot in any other context!
Hi Adam, it's great to have you here at Lomography. First off can you tell us for how long you have been shooting large format?
I didn't really shoot large format until I guess 2010. Now suddenly that's a long time ago! I was shooting Instant film and obviously, film because that's just what I grew up shooting forever and then I didn't really get into medium and large format photography until about, a decade ago, I guess, unless you were to include 3x4 Polaroid, which I did shoot quite a bit of kind of in the late nineties. I was shooting a lot of peel-apart stuff, but using really non-manual cameras, like the sort of plastic successor, to the land camera folders and you could go to like Sammie's camera and every time one busted, you were going to buy another one, even though they were like, kind of insanely expensive.
Then how did you discover large-format photography?
I guess it was around when I met Roxanne, my wife in 2008. So I guess it was really around then 2008 or 2009. And I realized I hadn't really been shooting many films at all. And so I kind of went back to my, at the time, pretty modest camera collection. And I started, just getting my feet wet with medium format and it wasn't long before I was interested in shooting large-format Polaroid, really. I was less interested in shooting 4x5 film per se. But since I was always a big Polaroid fan, I was really interested in shooting a larger form of Polaroid. Of course, this was exactly around the time it was all discontinued. So I was sort of buying it up as fast as I could off of eBay. And what was left? I started shooting also around the time the Impossible Project was introducing the 8x10 Polaroid stuff. It wasn't long before I got an 8x10 camera and to me felt like kind of like the quintessence of shooting film, just kind of really boiled down right to its essence, you know? Of course now when I do it, it's a little less exciting and a little more arduous once the initial kind of excitement and mystery of that wore off. It's a pretty painstaking way of taking pictures, but, you know, when it works, it's for me the most satisfying!
Do you remember a little bit more about that in the beginning, what that feeling was like to shoot a large format camera? Why was that so exciting for you?
There was something about the purity of seeing the image reflected on the ground glass. I mean, I would say that that was probably the first aspect of it. That was exciting. It really is just kind of such a pure way of shooting in this kind of Camera Obscura aspect of it. It was exciting whether or not you were actually going to get an image. Just the fact that it was being reflected in that way, it was just exciting and still remains exciting, and it's interesting how primal that is.
With an SLR you know what you're seeing is what you're getting and it's all a very immediate way of shooting. But large-format is like I said, a kind of painstaking, sort of way of taking a photo, but when Sunny, my younger boy sees that image on the ground glass, that to him is like the excitement of it, just seeing it on the glass itself before, we're even getting an opportunity to see the developed photo. I remember the first photo I took with large-format with this camera, with the speed grip, it was like Roxanne, my wife was working at her desk and it was just a shot. There was no selective focus. I wasn't experimenting with tilt-shift or anything like that. It was just kind of a straight-ahead photo of I think her legs up at her desk. And I just was blown away, but just the sheer size of the photo that came out, you know? I was pretty much an addict, you know, after that.
So you said you have shot some peel apart and instant film before this, have you before we sent you this back, have you tried shooting on Instax Wide?
I'd shot quite a bit of Instax wide and in a variety of different ways and have had cameras modified to shoot it, where I've had more control. So one of the cameras that I have is this converted Polaroid 110 Pathfinder, and then it's got an Instax back. And prior to the LomoGraflok, that was probably the best-produced Instax photos, I think came out of this camera. It's just an Instax wide camera that was Frankensteined onto the back of this Pathfinder, but, you know, it has a really great lens in it, and I can obviously control the focus much greater than you can in the sort of stock Instax cameras.
The idea of shooting Instax in a large-format was something else. To give some context my friend and fellow tester, Ben Parks, showed me a way in which you could use four by five film holders and put the end stacks in there. But, honestly, I don't have the patience for that, and shooting one photo at a time was not my speed and I don't have the patience for dark bags and all that. I've done it. I just don't love it. So the idea of shooting in stacks in a non-rangefinder context was like the goal. So that's why when I heard about this, I was really excited about it.
How did you like it when you tried it? What was your first impression of the film and the back itself, how it worked for you?
I was always pretty impressed with Instax wide. I have to say, I've always been a fan of the color as well. I don't think it has much latitude at all. I really do like the colors and, the variety of colors that you can get. What I have really wanted though was always to be able to kind of get much closer and you know, the idea of once you shoot any large format camera over, which you have more selective focus control, it's really hard to go back.
And that was the thing that I was lacking from all of the different ways in which I was shooting Instax wide. With the LomoGraflok there was a slight learning curve because of the spacer that you have to use, but that really was just a function of reading some instructions. And once that happened, it all moved pretty fast. I've been getting really great results. It's been very similar to shooting peel apart in a 4x5 camera. Aspect ratio is its own thing. And sometimes it's difficult to account for that because it's just not one that one is used to shooting particularly in four by five, which is kind of squarish. But once you get beyond that and start using the spacer, it's really cool.
Do you see yourself integrating this tool into your workflow in your personal work and if like, in what way or what are you planning on shooting with it?
I'm totally going to incorporate this as a kind of carry-along tool. I mean, one of the cameras I shoot with the most is this is a graph Super D. I'm trying to figure out to sort of making a focal compensation, and once that happens, it'll sort of go everywhere with me. In the meantime it actually kind of reignited my interest in shooting 4x5 on a tripod, setting up photos, which I haven't done in a long time. It was really similar to when Impossible Project said "go learn 8x10 photography." I really got into that mindset where it was kind of hard for me to go back to shooting anything smaller. So now the idea of shooting Instax without shooting it in this context, without having that kind of creative control over, it seems not nearly as exciting. It's absolutely going to be a tool of mine.
To check out more of Adam's photographs, head over to his website .