UK-based photographer and avid traveler Dan Whalley, better known as instant.observations has been documenting the rugged and vastly changeable landscapes of Britain using Instant film, with the majority of these taken using the Lomo'Instant Square Glass. We talked to him about the stories behind these photos, where he shoots, and what makes him come back to the Instant format.
Hello Dan, tell us a bit about yourself?
I am lucky to reside on the edge of the Peak District National Park, the first area to be recognized as a National Park in the UK and which grounded the way to other UK National Parks. My journey to the medium of photography started with my partner during a 6-month cycling expedition, a 5000-mile tour from Vancouver CA to Austin USA in 2015. We both invested in a mirrorless system, simply to document the ride and our day to day travels. Following the trip, I, unfortunately, gained an injury putting cycling on hold and I needed an outlet to the outdoors and photography provided this to me.
I quickly gained a keen interest in photography specifically toward landscape photography, but I don’t feel pigeonholed to this specifically. Photography is now part of my daily life. I then developed an interest in all aspects of photography and enjoying photographing the British countryside. As I’m quite particular in weather conditions and time of day that landscape photography brings, I was looking for something creative to fill in the gaps, take holiday snaps, etc. I used the Mini 90 alongside my digital kit, documenting holidays and day trips. I now almost always have an instant film camera with me.
Your photos have a very unique style, what drives you to shoot the subjects you choose in these photos.
My initial practice of instant photography was simply documenting life, holiday snaps, and days out, etc., however, my interest in landscapes gradually influenced both digital and instant film. On the whole, I’m naturally drawn toward shapes, light and the ordinary discovered within landscapes. Fuji Colour Instant film renders textures and contrasty scenes nicely especially dramatic skies, where I prefer Monochrome for the overcast foggy days.
How do you find shooting with the Lomo‘Instant Square Glass and what's the appeal of instant photography generally?
During lock down I needed an indoor project and my interest in instant film grew, not just for the odd snap, but an art form in itself. I absorbed instant photography, looking for interesting shapes and light around the house. This naturally got me thinking of other types of instant film cameras. I settled on the its retro look, and lens is sharp. The Lomo‘Instant Square Glass renders the fuji film extremely well especially using filters to balance the exposure. The camera has enough controls to manage the scene but easy enough to point and shoot with very little throw always once you understand the camera, and it’s just cool! To get the most out of the Lomo‘Instant, filters are a must, using filters elevates the image and balances the Fujifilm which tends to blow the highlights if exposing for the shadows. Instant photography fills the gaps between my digital landscape, the tangible print exposing as you watch just can’t be replicated in any other form, you have an element of pride in each print.
Do you have any plans for the next 12 months? Any new cameras or films you're keen to try out?
I embrace the limitations of the Lomo‘Instant Square Glass but on occasions would prefer more control, I also like the Wide format and I am toying with the newly released Lomograflok 4x5 Instant Back or the Mint RF70. And finally the Instax Monochrome square is on pre-order...finally! As this year has been limited in regard to travelling, next year we will be planning to travel more in our campervan spending time on the road and visiting new landscapes.
To see more of Dan's work visit his Instagram page