After last year's shutdown, Vanessa Gonzales made the difficult decision to quit her teaching job and drop out of culinary school in San Francisco. Although she wears many hats as a writer, painter, photographer (and seller of fine cheeses and wines!), she wanted to preoccupy herself with a project that is meaningful and tactile. And so she started taking a photo a day using instant cameras, including the Lomo'Instant Wide. You can check out her feed on Instagram.
Originally from Oakland, California, Vanessa and her partner have relocated to Florida, where they're adjusting to "a new rhythm of living".
Hi, Vanessa. What inspired you to start this instant photo project? When did it begin?
I was feeling depressed being away from my home and general pandemic style living, watching my life savings evaporate, missing purpose, etc. Sure I can paint to pass the time, or do a puzzle, or read and write, but I needed a meaningful tactile project. And I think it was just before New Year's Eve I decided on a photo project consisting of one thousand photos from my ordinary life. A photo a day to visually express gratitude for the quiet everyday beauty that encompasses my life. I had/have so much to be thankful for. I might also look at a photo and write something that inspires a story in my head, it's all very open-ended and honest. I certainly do not shy away from writing about my vulnerability.
What instant cameras do you use for this series?
I started out with a Fujifilm Instax Wide but I broke that, so for the past few months I've evolved into using my Lomo'Instant Wide camera for all my photos. It worked out for the best as I have more creative options with my Lomo'Instant.
Do you shoot in other formats as well?
I currently do not shoot in other formats, but once finished with this photo project, I may be interested in one thousand everyday photos in 35mm. Certainly curious about how I can expand on my current project.
What do you like taking pictures of?
Anything that inspires gratitude or appreciation. A sunset. The moon. Squirrels. Interesting colors. Ephemeral moments. Anything.
What does this instant photo project mean to you?
I want to remember this period of my life. A year where I was challenged by circumstances outside of my control and forced to look for the good things. There is an undercurrent of gratitude in all my artistic endeavors and I hope that's visible to the viewer.
Among the photos in this project, is there a photo that is particularly memorable to you?
Yes. February 7th (Photo 0038) I posted an image with a beautiful description through my lens of my magical thinking, it reads:
"I first saw the twinkle lights, followed by the murmuring of voices on the patio and music in the background. I stopped mid-stride to snap a quick photo wherein I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but I took the photo because I wanted to capture the sound of “living”. My magical thinking thought I could trap their living-ness on this flimsy little photo, which is part of a larger collection of harbored moments, that have become part of me and my story."
I really love that I was able to share this ephemeral moment with the world.
You've shot with the Lomo'Instant Wide. How do you like it so far?
It's awesome! Some of my favorite photos are multiple exposures. I've used bulb mode to capture full moonbeams at the beach late at night, that in itself is magic.