Featured Artist: Tom Schoenholz
Artist: Tom Schoenholz
Location: Hamilton, Ontario Canada
Tom has been a Shoot Film Contributor since his first submission to Issue 3, our Instant Film publication. He's active on social media with regular posts of work to his Instagram account and we often receive notifications of his activity, so we figured... It's about time we gave him a feature and let people discover more about him and his work with Polaroid Film! Tom sent us samples of two series he wanted to feature and whilst they differ in content, style, colour and concept we felt they complemented each other beautifully and give us a better look and the mind and portfolio of Tom Schoenholz.
SFUK: Hey Tom, tell us a little bit about yourself and your photographic background?
TS: I’m from Hamilton, Ontario Canada. I work full time as a carpenter, but recently took up photography to fill any spare time I have. My only previous photography experience was back in High school. My high school was lucky enough to have a fully functional darkroom.This was around 2007. I learned the basics of loading film, making prints etc. etc. Then back in March of 2017 I bought my first Polaroid camera, a Spectra, and fell in love with taking photos, and more specifically, instant photos.
SFUK: The images you’ve submitted represent two themes here, your observations of beauty in the everyday landscapes that surround us, and the exploration of new avenues within your own work as you mentioned the indoor shoot was your first trial and also the first time you’ve shot the new Polaroid Originals film.
A) What made you want to try shooting with a model indoors for the first time? How do you
think it went and how does the concept compliment your usual work?
TS: The series I shot with the apple was my first attempt at an indoor shoot with a model. Herein Canada, our winters can get pretty brutal and cold, so with the summer ending, I thought I should start trying to think of what I can do in the warmth of my house haha. I was a little worried about my minimal lighting and how the camera would perform in those conditions,but I’m actually very happy with the results. They turned out better than I had hoped!Minimal lighting, and my SX-70 did the rest.
I frequently use my girlfriend (who is kind enough to pose for me) in my photos. I have taken her photo many times before, but all outdoors. So this was just an extension of those shoots. The difference being, now we can play with light, and shadow and props in a more controlled environment.
B) What are your thoughts on shooting the new film by Polaroid Originals and how do you feel about their advancements or the Impossible Project “re-brand” as some people are calling it?
TS: I’ve only shot one or two packs of the new Polaroid Originals film, but I really like it. I’m very proud of what the Impossible project has been able to accomplish, and am thankful for their contribution to the art. There is definitely an improved quality to the film. It’s very crisp, and I absolutely love the faster development time. Sometimes I like to re take shots if I haven’t captured exactly what I wanted, and the 45min wait time was murder haha. I do enjoy having some quirks in film though, so hopefully this new generation of film isn’t “too perfect”.
SFUK: What drives you to want to take pictures? What inspires you?
TS: What drives me to take pictures is probably the urge to constantly improve. Like I mentioned, I’m still very new to photography, so I am constantly trying to take better or more creative photos. I’m inspired my environment, different camera techniques, my muse, and the amazing works of other photographers and artists.
SFUK: The shot of the model in the light bulb is pretty cool, can you talk us through it?Where did the idea come from and how did you go about it?
TS: I was extremely pleased with that shot! The idea came from an old school tattoo I had seen of a pinup model outlined by a red bulb. I just recently purchased some old Polaroid spectra film from an online ad, and the seller included a “close up duplicator” as well. I had never heard of such a thing. I’m not completely sure what its original intended purpose was, but basically, it’s a plastic box that the Polaroid Spectra fits into. Below, is a trap door where you can insert small objects to photograph. So, my first shot was of the light bulb on a black background inside of this box. I then had the model lay on the floor, stood up on a small step stool with my head against the ceiling to be as high up as possible, and shot the second exposure. Ta da!
SFUK: Why shoot film? What do you enjoy the most?
TS: I enjoy shooting film for some of the same reasons I prefer vinyl records over CD’s. There’s warmth, and character to film. Even imperfections. “Perfect” photos don’t really interest me.Not that digital can’t be beautiful and amazing in it’s own ways, but I personally have no urge to learn Photoshop. I love that once I press the shutter button, my work is done. Maybe I’m just lazy!
SFUK: What would you say to someone who’s just starting out with film photography? Any top tips?
TS: Take photos of whatever interests you, don’t be afraid to experiment, and learn as much as you can! The more you learn about different techniques (transfers, emulsion lifts, double exposures, effect filters, etc.) the more tools you have at your disposal to create.
SFUK: And finally... What are you working on that we can expect to see in the near future? Anything we can keep a look out for?
TS: As I mentioned earlier, winter’s coming. So I’m sure I’ll be cooped up inside over the next few months experimenting more and more. I’m excited to play with different lighting and colours, more indoor model shoots etc. I’ll definitely be playing more with my closeup duplicator as well, and seeing how far I can take that. Someone recently asked me about self portraits. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to sit on the other side of the camera and see what happens!
Keep up to date with Tom's work and be sure to follow him on Instagram @hammroids