‘Impossible’ Interview with Leanne Surfleet

‘Impossible’ Interview with Leanne Surfleet


Today, we are delighted to publish our twenieth ‘Impossible’ article (to view the others, go here), this time we are featuring Leanne Surfleet, a a UK-based photographer who has been capturing self-portraits on analog film, Polaroid 600 and Peel Apart films since 2006. She now shoots Impossible film to create her intimate instant film imagery.

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How long have you been shooting Polaroid/Impossible film?

Since the beginning! I was heartbroken when they announced they were discontinuing everything, until I heard about the Impossible Project!

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Which cameras do you use? What do you like about them?

I mainly use my SX-70 Sonar for instant film as it just has something magical about it that I’ve never found with other cameras. I was mainly shooting on a Spectra for the last few years which has been great for self-portraiture and finding my own specific style. But I’d always wanted an SX-70 and finally treat myself to one a couple of years ago and it’s the best treat ever.

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Where do you shoot most often? And on what film(s)?

I shoot mainly indoors when shooting self-portraits, and I like to use some of the older generation Impossible films as I like when they’re a little more experimental, so I’ve shot a lot of the PX70 / PZ680 Cool films which also look lovely when shooting outside. I mainly like to use Impossible Project films for portraiture as I feel I get the most out of the films when shooting people. After years of shooting instant film I know when to hold back and when something just has to be shot on Impossible film.

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

How would you describe your work? And who/what/where inspires you?

I’d describe my work as personal and diary-like, with it being mostly self-portraiture and of the things and people in my life. Sometimes lots of things inspire me such as light, colours, time of day, people, friends, books, other photographers and artists, women and just generally the mood I wake up in. Other times I can struggle with inspiration which I’m sure all creative people do from time to time, I try not to let it get to me too much as theres usually something just around the corner.

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Tell us a little about the pictures in your set which are your most favorite and why?

The photographs I selected to show are some of my favourites that I’ve shot over the past couple of years. Most are self-portraits and show me how much I’ve changed since I started taking them, mostly how I’ve changed emotionally. My most favourite are the self-portraits with beams of light across my eyes or face, I love using light in this way. Other favourites are the portraits I take of other people, the SX-70 is perfect for it and combined with Impossible film it all feels like a dream.

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Do you have any helpful creative techniques or advice you would like to share to other Impossible artists?

I think the best advice I could give is to just keep shooting with Impossible film, even if a certain pack just doesn’t work out too well with your camera, theres always more film (I hope!) and more time for experimenting.

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/publications?

I do! Theres a show coming up in December in London by World Wide Women, which is a collective of female artists and photographers which I’m a part of. The show is called ‘Ritual’ and a group of us are exhibiting works which fits with that theme. And some of my photographs in the show were shot on Impossible film!

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

Who are you favorite photographers, living or dead?

Nan Goldin, Francesca Woodman, William Eggleston, Lukasz Wierzbowski, Eylül Aslan, Aëla Labbé, Alison Scarpulla and so many more!

Image ©Leanne Surfleet

What are you hoping for from Impossible during the next year?

I would love if Impossible worked on a new peel apart film for Pack film cameras, that’d be a dream. But I’m hoping to try out the newest generation of SX-70 and Spectra films as I haven’t had a chance to yet.

Explore more of Leanne’s work with Impossible film on her website, Instagram & Flickr and connect with her on Facebook!

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