Article submitted to the Polaroid Originals Magazine by DJ Pangburn.
As a kid, Chloe Sheppard was always taking photographs. The London-based photographer’s first experiences with image-taking were on camera phones, capturing photos of the people at the parks where she played. Her need to document events visually arose out of an awareness that the fleeting moments, no matter how bad they were, would be lost unless they were preserved. By age 16, she discovered film photography and has been immersing herself in the analog world ever since.
“All my spare time would be spent on sites like Tumblr and Flickr, finding inspiration for projects and ways to further my passion for film,” Sheppard tells Polaroid Originals. “And it’s still pretty much the same way now, just with a lot more time on instagram instead.”
Depending on the setting and type of shoot, Sheppard typically uses either a Canon AE-1 or Olympus Mju II film camera. The former is typically for studio shoots, while the latter is more of an everyday camera. She also shoots a lot in medium format, either with a Rolleiflex or a Pentax 67.
“I usually have specific ideas for an image in my head—I can see it clearly in my mind and try to recreate that when I’m taking the photo,” Sheppard says of her approach to capturing images. “My photographs are more from planned shoots, rather than ‘off guard’ street shot type scenes, so something will conjure up an image in my head, and when I go to capture it. I try my best to use that as a guideline and match it up in real life.”
Beyond fashion and music photography, Sheppard also shoots music videos and creates zines. And this year she also directed her first film, A Much Better Illusion, which she shot on both 8mm and 16mm film. The film will be screening at an exhibition of her work at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London on October 24th. As Shepppard explains, this multimedia approach to creativity comes naturally.
“My work has always been a way of self expression and getting out all this junk I have in my head, so I’ve always wanted to try and do that in as many ways I possibly could,” she adds. “It’s become strange to me because now when I think of an idea, I have to decide how I want to play it out, whether I see it as a scene in motion or whether it would be stronger just as a still.”
As for her work with instant analogue cameras, Sheppard likes the instant gratification, as it is a welcome release from having to wait for 35mm and 120mm film to develop. Sheppard has shot with a Polaroid 635 camera since she was 16 years old, and this past year she began using a 320 Land Camera.
“I always tend to shoot more portraits on this, just because I am more of a portrait photographer in general,” says Sheppard. “I love the tones you’re able to get with a Polaroid, and the shape of the films too.”
The latest Polaroid in Sheppard’s arsenal is the OneStep+. The first photos she took with it were self portraits on black and white film, and they developed exactly as she had imagined they would.
“I usually wait a while before scanning and uploading them to share, but these ones I scanned right away,” she says. “It was so useful being able to control the self timer time rather than it being the standard 10 seconds, it gave me more time to compose myself and set my shot, which is always comforting with a self portrait.”
Because of her interest in and use of medium format cameras, Sheppard has begun seeing images in her head as square frames. So, transposing her style into the OneStep+ wasn’t much of challenge.
Sheppard typically shoots portraits, and quite close up, so being able to switch lenses with the OneStep+’s Portraits feature was crucial in getting a well-focused portrait. She also found the Remote Trigger feature (on the smartphone app) highly practical so that she could disable the flash if need be.
“The tones of the photos come out so much more satisfying without flash, I find,” she adds. “So it’s definitely my favourite feature as a photographer who rarely uses flash in portraits anyway. It’s also so handy being able to choose the self-timer length.”
When possible, Sheppard’s suggests that photographers have a friend along when using the Remote Feature.
“I found it easier to have both hands on the camera, with one thumb over the ‘no-flash’ button, and then shout to someone else when you want them to press the shutter button on your phone, rather than trying to balance it with one hand,” Sheppard explains. “It’s totally do-able, but I’m just more confident having someone else who isn’t looking through the viewfinder to press it.”