A Photographers Love of Polaroids: An Instant Love Affair.

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If I spoke to ten different photographers from ten different backgrounds, working within ten different areas of the field, I would hazard a guess that at least eight of them would have a love for the instant photograph. Whether it be the age-old chemical process of the Polaroid or the (relatively) new electronic mechanism of the Instax. They probably wouldn’t be able to explain their love or fully understand it themselves. Like a married person in the heat of an affair. Unable to comprehend it, or explain it but fascinated by it. Drawn to it.

For me, I think it’s the physical attribute of the process. It is the anti-digital but with the same immediate result. Look through the viewfinder, release the shutter, and seconds later you are holding a physical print. Something to keep, to frame, to use as a bookmark or prop up on a shelf. It gives you an instant sense of ownership, something that will live with you. In a similar way that the 12” records from the 60s and 70s look like they have been lived with – they look like they could tell a story. Every crease and coffee stain revealing something else. Put this in comparison to shooting 35mm film and it’s easy to understand the love of the instant. For most people – or at least those like me who don’t own darkrooms, you can shoot a roll of film and wait up to a week for the prints to arrive with you. It’s somehow just not the same for me. It doesn’t have the same substance. I feel a little withdrawn from the process of it.

A few months ago I went away for a weekend with my Wife, I decided to document the trip on the Fuji Instax Mini (discussed in this blog post). I took approximately 40 exposures, and those photographs have already been looked at dozens more times that the equivalent would have been – ten to twenty photographs lurking in a gallery on my iPhone. Pushed further and further down the gallery with each click of the shutter and with each screenshot.

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I like things in my life that are unpredictable. Nights out, late nights, work projects. Unpredictability fascinates me. That’s what instant film offers. It’s like the unplanned “quick pint” with your friend that ends with a 4.00 am drinking session and an almighty hangover. You’ll never know what you’re going to get with instant film. You can do your best to create the “perfect” shot. Check your lighting, stage your subject, but I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results twice. With limited to no control over exposure, ISO, and shutter speed, and without the ability to look through a single lens, every image will be different. Each will have it’s own personality. It’s own failings and equally it’s own brilliance.

This is nothing new, photographers have been fascinated with instant film since it came to light. Professionals used it, families used it. There would have been countless nude photographs taken of partners, hidden at the bottom of drawers during a time where instant photography was the only private photography.

Maybe all of that is part of it’s charm. Today there are artists who only shoot on instant film. I truly admire that but have to admit it’s not something I could do. After a week or so I’m always pretty happy to go back to the comfort of my DSLR, like the cheating partner walking back through the door of his house. It feels like going home.

When you think of instant film it’s hard not to think of the resurgence of analogue. Vinyl is back in record stores and outselling physical CD’s. It’s a throwback to a simpler time, a time when “things” meant something. A time where things weren’t thrown away. A time where not everything was considered disposable.

– Carl Beebee.

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An Autopsy of Rural England.

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**A new and ongoing photography project**

Come to Herefordshire and you’ll be surprised by its natural beauty, the green fields, untouched landscapes and the tranquility of the idyllic market towns and villages, where people try desperately to grasp onto a time and period that has all but passed. You will probably fall in love with Herefordshire and remark to your nearest and dearest how it’s such a wonderful place to visit. You may even want to retire here…

But dig a little deeper, cut it open and you might find a very different story. A very different county. You might find a story of the lowest wages in the West Midlands, a story of constant compromise, a story of a Tory seat that has largely been unopposed for the last two decades. Cut deeper and you will see a county that has placed all of its funding into one city centre. A failed regeneration that has left everywhere else behind it, in its murky shadow. You’ll find quiet streets – and I don’t mean in the tranquil way you may think of – but in a way where a lack of true investment, opportunity and a disposable income has emptied the streets until they look like a damaged Hopper painting.

This project is not about the people here. By large, the people here are good, honest and hard working. There are of course people who do not want change. They don’t understand it. There are also plenty of the “love it or leave it” brigade and there are people who undoubtedly deserve better. People who have been let down by a place where social injustice is being pushed into the very forefront.

Herefordshire is of course beautiful too. There are countless books and postcards to demonstrate that. There is an undeniable charm here, but the things and places that will be photographed for this project, unlike other counties, are not hidden. They are not relegated to the back streets, they are on our doorsteps, outside of our houses, in our town centres. Unhidden, unapologetic and in plain view. They are a constant reminder of an unbalanced county and an unbalanced economy. It is compromised and frequent, it is every part of our county. It is in equal measure to the beauty, the charm and the silence.

Look past the natural beauty and the over marketed history and you’ll see it. Clear as day. A political commentary? Perhaps. But it will be a definite and honest autopsy of the place I call home.

– Carl Beebee.

Blogging, you have to blog right?

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Blogging, you have to blog right? (Is this ‘blogging’ on here?). Everyone tells me I have to blog. My agents tell me, my publicist tells me, so do my clients, friends and everybody else. I have to blog. I enjoy blogging I’m just not great at finding the time to do it, and I don’t pretend I’m actually any good at it. But I’m not bothered about that. I think I’m meant to blog about work and life but ironically those are the two things that seem to get in the way of me blogging. Let’s face it, there’s things I’d rather do than blog; spending time with my family, visiting galleries, drinking, fucking, shooting. All of the things that fill my life and generally make me happy. As I mentioned, I enjoy blogging, just generally not as much as the other things I’ve mentioned. I guess I need to find a way around this, but for now I’m going to tell you a little about what I’ve been working on because that seems as good as reason as any to blog.

Most of my time at the moment is taken up by working on my new book ‘FATALE’. My agents want this released in November of this year but that means a really tight schedule. I’m photographing approximately 50 women for the book. A mixture of professional models, friends, people I’ve known for a few years and people I’ve never met. It is a portrait of the real FATALE’s of 2017. The girl who lives next door, the woman you see down the street, the Mother dropping her kids off at school. It’s cool, sexy, seductive and different. I was recently asked to sum the book up in one line. My answer was “it’s a fuck you Hollywood” — and it is. There’s another slice of irony there considering I got this book deal on the back of my previous book ‘California Calling’. That leads me onto something else I’m working on… In the next couple of months I’m releasing a new version of ‘California Calling’ exclusively to the iBookstore — hopefully there will be more news on that very soon.

I’ve also been working on a short documentary filming a duo who are in the UK from the States to record an EP. Actually, this is something I’d like to blog about but I’m contracted to keep my mouth shut until the release. That’s irony biting me firmly on my ass again.

Those are the things that are currently filling up my schedule along with the things I mentioned earlier. I’m going to try and blog more but I must admit that this is something I’ve said before. The intention is there. The will is there. If there was a school report for it, it would simply read “must try harder”.

Thanks for reading… See you in the pub.

– Carl.