Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 19 December 2015

Gemma Styles Saturday 19 Dec

Gemma Styles: I've Found The Secret To Nailing That Perfect Christmas Selfie

The Debrief: We've all got millions of pictures on our phone - which is why I'm moving back to IRL photos (with a difference) this Christmas...

Photograph by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

It’s officially Christmas party season and with it begins one of the most photographed periods of the year. But what happens to all these pictures? The chosen few might make it to Instagram to be viewed again when you’re spending your hungover Boxing Day having a lazy, thumb-led scroll down memory lane, but what of the rest? 

Of course you can still head to the high street and get your pictures printed but there’s been an undeniable rise in popularity recently for instant cameras. From vintage Polaroids to the happy little Instax mini cameras, people are going old school with their snaps and enjoying having them to put on the wall, fridge, or whatever string, spray paint and mini pegs craft explosion they spend their weekend on. No? Just me..? Less hideous than it sounds I swear.

Digital photos have their benefits - as smartphones and their lenses have improved, now most people are carrying a pretty decent digital camera in their pockets at all times. You can take multiple pictures and pick your favourite, it’s quicker, edits are right there on your phone and shareable, whether you’re uploading to Facebook or just texting to a friend for crucial New Year’s Eve outfit critique. It also means an end to the cringey Christmas family portraits of old - now we can all check what the end result will be before we change out of our matching elf costumes and go back to real life. 

With instant cameras one of the main draws is included in the name – instant. I feel like we all went through a phase of getting our digital pictures printed out – all 400 of them from one weekend away. But they still ended up sat in a drawer with the odd one or two making it to a frame on the wall. There’s something about instant photos that feels a bit more, special, somehow, especially the proper old Polaroids with the decent sized frames and flaws and all.

Hooooowever - it’s not the cheapest of hobbies. If you’re looking to produce only photos that you love and avoid wasting film on pictures where you think your nose looks weird, you might be interested in this particular gadget – and get it hastily added to your Christmas list last minute. The Impossible Instant Lab is made by The Impossible Project, who bought the last factory making Polaroid film a few years ago after it closed down, to continue making film for the millions of Polaroid cameras round the world. As well as making the film, they also created the Instant Lab, which turns your digital pictures into physical, developed photographs. Not printed on paper to look like old pictures, but actually exposing film. It’s one of my favourite toys to play with and guarantees only shots you like make it to print.


So with this one picture; I took it digitally on my phone, filtered it on Instagram (to make it look more like an old photo), then turned it into an actual photograph before finally scanning it to digital again so I could show you what it looks like un-digitalised. I think. My head hurts. As you can see, you get all the effects and little imperfections of actual film, which I think only adds more character.

I’m sure I’m enraging some photographers out there and I know that there’s more to photography in general than finding a few perfect shots and adding a filter to convert to film for your bedroom. But for me personally, a few pictures I love are enough to make me happy . And amateurs like me don’t have the time or budget to spend on ruining packs and packs of film till I get one shot right. 

So there you have it - the secret to your perfect Christmas family portrait. May your turkey be moist and your photos be flattering. Happy holidays!

Liked this? You might also be interested in: 

'My Name's Gemma Styles And I'm A Phone-A-Holic' 

'Why Your Perfect Instagram Is A Big Fat Lie'

Gemma Styles: 'Beware The Selfie Monster' 

Follow Gemma on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles

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