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How To Get The Most From Your Instax Mini

In an age where everything is instant and digital photography means options are endless, phones become our main camera's we use to shoot everything and investing in a great DSLR gives us greater opportunities. As we advance along with technology film cameras of all kinds become "retro" but also the thing we all want. The prints have that old-timey feel and the tangible effect of holding a print makes us remember the days when all we really had were plastic film cameras that nowadays we call "toys" or a fancier term - lomography. Photographers can't help but indulge in the practice, film is where it all started anyway and it gives each image an antique, saturated yet washed out look and exposed effect that can bring so much more to an image. With that comes the rise in polaroid cameras and more people going out to grab one including yours truly who finally got one for her birthday. They're ideal for collecting instant memories that last that you can hold in your hand (and it's also what these were made for) but also for getting a little arty with it and expanding your photography horizons. 

So now that we all have one, how do we get the most from it? Film can be costly over time so using it sparingly is always a good idea. But you don't have to just snap a picture without thought, you can do a little more to really work with the camera to get different results from your images. While these cameras are only point-and-shoots and pretty simple to use, (they tell you what to do after all), there are a few small things you can do that can help you get the most of your moneys worth. 
When you first pull it out and put it together the best thing to do is get a feel for it. Read the instructions and for the first few snaps follow them, photograph in different lighting situations and follow the directions stated for how to get the best snap in that lighting situation. The camera has basic settings around the lens and it deciphers for itself what kind of lighting you are in. A little light bulb signals which setting you need to use and all you do is turn the wheel to line up with that bulb. Getting a feel for the camera and learning how it works will allow you to understand it better so you can start to get a little more adventurous. 
Judge the light. You don't always have to use the suggested setting the camera tells you to with it's bulb. Judge the light you're shooting in and what it's like for the subject you're shooting directly. The flash will always go off and it's not always ideal so to combat that you may need to choose the light setting yourself. If you're indoors but shooting something near a window or where there is bright sunlight coming in the camera will tell you to shoot on the "indoor" setting. Instead if the light is bright enough you can shift the setting to "cloudy" or "sunny" (not the bright sun). The flash will go off but the other setting will be a little darker so you can get the most detail from your image. The indoor setting makes the flash a little brighter and over-exposes a little more to get detail from darker rooms - ideal for dark shadows or actual rooms without streaming sunlight that brightens. The sunny settings under-exposes a little so not much light comes through. If you don't need to let in extra light, don't. 
Just keep in mind that while shooting through a window the flash will have a little blow back as it bounces back off the glass, if you want detail and are shooting at bright sunny light, try dialling it back to "cloudy".
This is where playing around comes in handy so you can best understand how it works to get different effects from your images. Store your prints in a tin or box with a lid that secures to keep the images in good condition and together. The more photos you take the more space you'll need to store them, sometimes just sticking them anywhere doesn't do any good and if you like to peg yours to some string you may run out of room. Keeping them in a storage box or tin will keep the images cool so they don't erode and will keep them safe from any kind of damage. If you're proud of the images you take the last thing you want is for them to ruin in any way, this method of storage keeps them clean and out of the way and has enough space to store hundreds of images so you don't have to worry about running out of space. This is also great if you're using film cameras and need to store those prints (and negatives) somewhere safe and cool.Get creative. Rather than only using it to snap the usual things for collecting memories (friends, family and selfies) get a little creative and think more artistically. Back in the early 1900's before any kind of digital photography, artists, photographers and journalists were using film and polaroids for their work, so why not do the same? Photograph the weather changes, play with light on subjects, when you're travelling take snaps of landscapes and detailed shots of trees, buildings etc. Take photo's of what you see when you look out a window, animals make great subjects too and tilt the camera to get different angles and views to shoot both in landscape and in portrait. Change it up a little bit and get arty between your usual snaps of occasions, maybe your house and friends for memories sake. 

All-in-all, just have fun and think outside the box, play around get a feel for it and try to make the camera do what you want, not what it tells you to do. Maybe you could purposefully over-expose something or even under-expose it to see what you get and how it looks. Maybe on your next outfit shoot or if you're shooting something fashiony with someone take a few polaroids and get a little bit Vogue with it. The options are endless.


All photo's by Sheree Grace

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