Creative Expectations, Creative Execution, Creative Learning: Lauren Lim’s Instant Photo Documentary

February 14, 2020

In “Instant: A Short Documentary” Lauren Lim sets out to photograph people on the street, and give them the resultant photo.  

In the process she learns about her own expectations, her own discomfort, and more about what photography means to her and the people she meets.

My blog is full of posts on creativity and executing projects; and probably a week doesn’t go by when I don’t write about expectations. 

But in 9 minutes I think Lim has provided everyone, regardless of the nature of his or her creative endeavor, insight into the nature of creative projects, and the necessity of getting through the awkward moments.

I think everyone should take a moment and watch this short video.

Then spend another 9 minutes to watch her behind the scenes of the documentary video. There she does the type of self-debriefing that I think is so valuable for people in any creative field. Look at what you’ve done, think about what worked and what didn’t in specific terms, think about your expectations, see if you adapted your expectations as needed, and apply all that to your next project.

It’s exactly what anyone sketching in public is going to go through. There is only one way to go through it—straight through with continued practice.

If you’ve been sketching in public for a long time you might find it difficult to watch her awkwardness at first. You might even feel protective of her. But the reality is everyone who wants to go out and work in public, and create works that will be public is going to have to get through all of these things Lim experiences. How fortunate that she can articulate her experiences.

Why Am I Posting About Photography?

Well it is one of my life long interests. (I think I still owe my mother about $63 dollars of a $200 film processing bill from a family trip when I was 12! I took photos of everything.) As an illustrator I continued burning through Polaroid film, taking “selfies” (before that was even a word) in the positions I needed for my illustrations—folders and folders of this stuff will NOT make the move this summer!) I have even gone through periods of time when photos seem to beat out sketches in my visual journals. These coincided with me either having darkroom access to print my own photos or my experiments with the various instant cameras and film that kept emerging.

With several professional photographers as friends I’ve been spoilt by watching them create great bodies of work. There is always a lot to be excited about in the field of photography.

So Why and How Did I found Lim?

With my current eye situation it looks like I’m going to enter another one of those periods when I fill my journals with snapshots. (I’m not aiming at composed photos, just quick  responses to my environment.) I simply can’t sketch as fast, or for as long a session as I used to; yet I remain reluctant to let things “go by.” (I think that is my curse.)

Recently I’ve been looking at small portable color printers that allow you to print photos from your phone or smart camera. I hope to use them when traveling, and even in daily life (as sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it to turn on the “real” color printer, and I can’t have that with me when I’m out and about).

In short it’s something that I’m still playing with as a useful tool.

In researching all this I found a wonderful film of Lim explaining the features of all the Fuji Instax cameras.

I found it very helpful. I’m not sure I’ll end up with an Instax, but I do like those little printers (and they can print off phones).

In the product review film Lim impressed me with her clarity and directness. When she mentioned that she’d made a short documentary about street photography I had to watch it just because of my background. Now I feel it necessary to urge you all to watch it too.

Practice is going to get you to a comfort level where you feel at home anywhere doing your creative business. But the first thing you have to do in order to practice is get out the door. 

    • Tina Koyama
    • February 15, 2020

    Wow — really, really fascinating! It’s a process junkie’s gem (and I know we both are process junkies). Thanks for sharing!

    1. Reply

      I thought you would enjoy this!!

      So I know what a Sprocket is, but what’s a Pogo? I tried to look it up and it seems there’s a selfie stick called that and also a small camera that goes on your eye glasses! If it’s the latter I think I need one of those!

    • Tina Koyama
    • February 15, 2020

    P.S. I have both a Sprocket and a Pogo. Neither is great in terms of quality, but I do like the “instant” part of them, especially when I travel. At the end of each day when I travel, I wind down in the hotel room by going through the photos I took that day. I choose only 3 or 4 images that I want to remember most or that were the most meaningful, and I print those for my journal.

    • Lisa
    • February 15, 2020

    I agree with Tina; that was fascinating and informative to watch Lin’s process and then her analysis of the project.

    I love how most of her takeaways were not about technical skills, but moreso about how to connect to her subjects to make it a positive experience for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing, Roz. It’ll be interesting to see where your art journey takes you! I like the idea of instant picture development.

    1. Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it Lisa!

      Today my creative journey went towards roasted vegetables! It was a successful day!

    • Ted B
    • February 15, 2020

    Roz, this video is a treasure, and I thank you for including it in your blog.. So many people today take hundreds and even thousands of photos on their phones and digital cameras, but never consider that most of the photos will be dust ten to twenty years from now. Those of us old enough to have scrapbooks of family and travel photos taken over the years are so lucky that we and our families made photos with film.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for writing Ted. I’m glad that you enjoyed the video.I think you’re write about the problems of photo storage in the digital age. I had a family member get a fatal error on her phone and she lost 6 or more years of travel, vacation, and family holiday photos that she wanted to keep.

      As you know, I like to print things out and put them in my journal!

    • Richard Schletty
    • February 18, 2020

    Reminds me of the 2019 Indian film called Photograph:

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