The Impossible Project


Being a Director of the Foto Frenzy Photography Centre, I am fortunate to be working with a very creative crew.  Foto Frenzy is currently hosting Dr Doug Spowart and Dr Victoria Cooper as our Centre’s Artists-in-Residence.  The Good Doctors have brought a sense of  academic research to our operation – and this was shown this week with the execution of a Frenzy Team portrait. Possibly one of the earliest shot with the new IMPOSSIBLE 10×8″ black and white instant material here in Australia.  In February 2008, Polaroid announced that they would no longer manufacture the eponymous instant film with which they had dominated the photography world.  By June of that year the Impossible Project was starting to become a reality with instant films ranging all the way up to 10×8″ and the made to order 20×24″ for the handful of cameras in existence of this size.


Doug Spowart and the Author preparing the Cambo and Schneider Lens; © Jacob Schneider.

Using our Cambo 10×8″ camera, Doug was prepared to use a couple of sheets of his valuable material to further the cause of science.  Having shot over 300 sheets of the old Polaroid film, he was well placed to work his way through this process.

Our motley crew were gathered in the studio, and using a combination of daylight and constant source lighting (ISO 640), the first test was shot.  This large format film requires processing in its own machine.  We were fortunate that Doug still owns such a device.


Portrait Sitters view of the Process; © Ian Poole, 2013.

The use of a large format camera brings a slow and steady cadence to the whole process.  Even the sitters must be ready to contribute to the process by posing to enable the photographer to focus and frame his shot; then the film is loaded and the dark slide is loaded and inserted into the camera.


Poole Shoots Doug; © Victoria Cooper, 2013.

The finale, for me, was the opportunity to add to my Poole Portrait Project, by creating a 10×8″ Impossible image of Dr Doug.  The process of portraiture is about seeking an appropriate moment that records the sitter’s expression, psyche and mood; sometimes grabbed in a second – other times hunted and sought by a devious process of search and capture!  With the single shot large format camera it is a finely judged moment of interaction with the sitter, and then swooping in for “the kill”.

Obviously, the IMPOSSIBLE Project material carries its own peculiar and particular characteristics, but its reward is a raw honesty of image making.


Doug by Poole Impossible Project 10×8″

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