Name: Horia Brebeneanu
Instant tools: Polaroid SX-70 Model 2, Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 Gold, Minolta Instant Pro, Polaroid Spectra Onyx, and a quirky one, not really a camera, but quite possibly an inspiration for the Impossible Lab, the Vivitar Instant Slide Printer, which I use to print slides on instant pack film.
Tell us a little (or a lot) about yourself: who are you, where do you live, what inspires you, what made you turn to instant photography and what is your background?
I currently live in Manchester, and work for a big corporation. I got here out of different impulses, but generally by going with the flow of things, to say so… I’ve initially studied law in Timisoara, but soon after I’ve graduated I’ve got a scholarship related to public administration, and got the chance to study for one year in UK, and afterwards to work for the Ministry of Culture in Bucharest. The time spent in Bucharest was amazing, as there are so many things in motion there, and I’ve got to meet many interesting people. Which led me to start a master in photography at the National University of Arts, partly as a more in depth continuation of a hobby I had for years, and partly to meet and understand better the cultural sector, for which I was actually working, albeit on the public administration side. The master was purely theoretical for me, but offered a very nice vision of what photography means when seen from an arty angle and when placed in the larger contemporary art perspective. And again, I got to meet some great people in the process.
Bucharest was very inspiring from a photographic point of view, and I’ve carried away shooting in every new place I’ve moved to when switched to a UK based life. I am curious about all sorts of different ways to take a photograph and record memory, so in a rather fluid way I got to try instant photography. And was hooked, because it clicked with how I see the passage of time and memory…imperfect and with added layers of distorted feelings and a hint of nostalgia. Just like an instant photo and its chemical process captured in a small frame. Plus I like objects, so I guess the tangibility and uniqueness of a Polaroid style photo satisfies my fetishist side. As for what inspires me..day to day experiences, I am a photographer like the other millions of people using different cameras nowadays.
Something nice about the place where you live?
Manchester is not really the prettiest town in a touristy way, but it has a lot of character and an amazing history, especially the musical one, which is also my favourite. People are friendly and proud of their city, and the good vibe can be felt as you step out of the train and start walking towards the city centre.
What is the story behind your most beloved series?
I have loads of favorite so called series, but actually I would like to mention the first Impossible instant film I bought. It was so precious with only 8 frames and marking the beginning of a rescue mission to save instant film for Polaroid cameras, and it had all the quirks of an experimental material, that probably I gave it extra attention…but in the same time I’ve started using it for what I am still using it: keeping a visual diary, uncluttered by hundreds of photos, but by only a few for each special day, trip, whatever. Back then in 2011, I had a motor bike and I went for a road trip between two towns in UK to visit friends. I had only 5 photos left, as I wasted the other 3 trying to figure out how the film works. The photos I took were of my bike in front of a tower block, and some interiors of my friends’ house. The photos are very faded now, but they sum up very well what instant photography is for me: memory, preciousness, bits of everyday life.
A memory you wish you could have imprinted on film but didn’t?
I would have loved to be able to shoot my highschool / university years on instant film, mostly because of the fresh and ecstatic view on things you have at that age. But for some reason I wasn’t interested much in photography back then, and it is also really hard to imagine how could I have been able to afford to buy film from my student allowance. Although we were always able to find a way to do whatever we wanted under the moniker “we are students”, and then everything was allowed and possible.
Recommend us a site/social link you dig that we should know about.
Now that you mentioned dig, cannot help but tell you about a very dear project of my girlfriend’s and mine, http://digandgift.co.uk/. It is an on and off project, in the last months on hold, born from our love for random flea market finds, and how they seem to have a connection which can be translated in a beautiful gift. It also has a blog, included in the website.
Besides that, a very cinematic disco music and which does inspire me instant photography wise is anything by Trust, or TR/ST, a Canadian coldwave / darkwave outfit, check them out here.
I also love Polaroid portfolio books, and cannot recommend enough works such as those by Sibylle Bergemann, Andrei Tarkovsky or Mike Brodie. They come from different parts of the world, Russia, East Germany, the States, and used the medium either at the beginning or height of its popularity, or at the end, squeezing photos out of the last packs, but they all caught very well the warm feeling of it when tracing moments of their lives.
Say I give you an instant camera with only one paper left inside. It’s the last instant camera in the world. What would you shoot and why?
I would try to shoot something related to the feel of the moment. It would probably be related to nostalgia, to the feeling of losing something dear. I have no clear image in mind, it will depend on where I would be. But it will also be infused with a bright light, as I am sure we always come up with something new to expend on whatever we had and lost.