Charlene Winfred – CPH Street Instant Photography
FUFJIFILM Instax Nordic are proud to present X-photographer Charlene Winfred’s first Instax photography series.
Charlene Winfred is fascinated by how identity and perspective change as we move through spaces over the course of our lives. Charlene originates from Singapore and left Singapore for Australia on a year-long sabbatical that hasn’t ended yet.
Straddling ethnicities, nations and cultures without ever fully inhabiting a side, her work is inevitably about movement and change. In recent years, Charlene Winfred has regularly returned to Singapore which have offered a new lens to explore the life of perpetual transit: the challenge of returning to an unfamiliar home, and the meaning of belonging. Charlene is a Fujifilm X-series ambassador, and use Fujifilm equipment for both stills and video work. She is sponsored by Fujifilm Nordic, Goecker, Swedish Chameleon, Simplr Straps.
I’ve never used an Instax before. As a Fujifilm X Series ambassador, I’m used to cameras that give me control over every aspect of my image.
The SQ20 was a departure from that. Ok, its digital heart meant I could control exposure, crop and “look” via the respective controls on the back of the camera. That took away some of the surprise. But unlike my usual mirrorless cameras, the point of the camera is not the image file. It’s the print – that little square that emerges from its belly after you hit “OK” to “Print.”
So unpacking my brand new SQ20 at home, the first – and most obvious? – thing I did was to take a photo of my boyfriend. Few photos compare to those of our loved ones. Especially those we can keep in a wallet. After working out the kind of exposure compensation needed to balance shadows and highlights, I took it out on my next mission: street photography.
I’ve enjoyed street photography for over a decade, and it’s the thing I continue to do all the time for pleasure. But I’ve never shot street with an instant camera.
It was great fun. I enjoyed playing with all the different image modes, but my favourite of all of them was double exposure. There’s something about overlaying one photo with another that opens up a range of creative possibilities. And with the Instax, it’s also possible to hold the final outcome in hand immediately after taking the shot. What’s not to like about it?
The best aspect of the Instax camera for me though, is the limited range of control I can exercise over each image. After 4 cartridges of film – and the digital camera user’s balm of being able to adjust exposure – I got the the hang of how the Instax feels about very dark and very bright areas. I don’t worry about about tonal range and focus and whatnot with the Instax, the way I do normally though. That’s not what the Instax is about. The serendipity of the print that emerges from the camera is the thing. That’s the magic of the Instax.
Street photography guide
When I picked up the Instax and scrolled through all the shooting modes, I played with the collage and double exposure modes the most. Ultimately, not a lot of those images ended up being printed, because they were honestly too horrible to print. Digital lends itself very well to experimentation in this way – you can make all the lousy pictures you want, and no one ever has to know! The SQ20 being a hybrid camera is very useful exactly for this reason.
I took this photo out of a window in the living room. There is a big roundabout in Amager that I looked at every morning I was in Copenhagen. It has a very nice geometry, if you’re into that kind of thing. In playing with the collage function, flipping the second image upside down and finding ways to connect it to the first image became a bit of a game, and was easy to do with shapes like squares and ellipses. I didn’t expect the final collage to show such an even inversion of the tones in the picture!
TRAIN STATION THIRDS
I made this photo at Nørreport train station in Copenhagen. The 3 parts of the frame were
- Incoming train, approaching the platform
- A section of the train (the bicycle carriage as it whizzed past me
- The rear of the train as it departed the platform
I was trying out the collage function (again) to see if I could incorporate any kind of story into 3 narrow strips. As it turned out, there was a story, and the first and last panels also managed to mirror each other perfectly.
TWIN TRAIN FRAMES
I’m a big fan of the double exposure function in the Instax. Double exposures are fun, and always contain an element of surprise, especially when printed on the fly. I made this one on the train to Roskilde. There was another passenger sitting across the aisle, silhouetted perfectly by the window. I took one shot, then turned 180 degrees to make the second shot out the window.
With collages or double exposures, I like to take my shots one after the other quickly. I do this to capture a certain sense of place or time. I love riding trains, and they remain my favourite form of transport, and environment for making pictures.