A few months ago I started to see a bunch of rad looking Polaroids popping up on Chip Riggs’ Instagram (@chipriggs) and the more I saw, the more I got stoked on them. While on a recent trip to Sparky’s Distro HQ in Florida, I got together with Chip to talk about why he likes shooting polaroids, his cameras and films of choice and the cost of this obsession, among other things. While a lot of polaroid stuff looks like hipster bullshit straight out of Vice, I think Chip’s stuff has a vibe of its own and does well to document the people and things around him. So check out this little Q&A and a gallery of photos he was generous enough to share with us. Thanks Chip!
Name, Age, Job?
Chip Riggs, Old (42), I’m one of the graphic nerds at Sparkys Distribution.
How long have you been into photography?
I picked up a camera in 1987 to take photos of my friends riding and haven’t put it down since.
What made you want to get into Polaroids?
I had a couple of One-Step style Polaroid cameras sitting around that I hadn’t used in years because I’d really gotten into digital and then Jason, one of the other designers at Sparkys, gave me a Polaroid Spectra which kind of kick started my interest in the format again. Now I’m hooked and there’s pretty much no going back.
What’s your camera / film of choice?
Right now I’m mainly using two cameras, the Polaroid Spectra One-Step style with the expired Polaroid Soft Tone Film and a Polaroid 104 Automatic Land Camera using either Fuji 100c color or Fuji 3000b B/W film. The Impossible Project just released their latest Color Protection formula film for the Spectra so I’ll eventually move to that since it’s color rendition is pretty awesome.
Is cost a factor to you or is it more about making the images you want?
It’s expensive for sure but I try not to think about the cost because ultimately I enjoy shooting with the format too much to let it be an inhibitor. Plus, the response you get from people when you ask to take their photo with one of these cameras is totally different then if you were shooting digital. People are way more open to it and once the image starts to come up after the shot it’s pretty awesome.
Seeing as there’s a certain aesthetic to Polaroids, what makes a good one to you?
I mostly photograph people with the Polaroid cameras so having the fun of the experience come across in the expression and gesture of the subject is important to me. Also, because of nature of the format you really never know what you’re going to get on the other end and I really like the randomness and imperfections that often show up.
Do you have any plans for all the stuff you’ve been shooting lately?
I never really had a goal in mind when I starting shooting Polaroids other than to document the people around me and share the photos with them.
How much of what you shoot is manual and how much is just letting the camera take the wheel?
The Polaroid cameras I use are basically automatic. The only manual adjustments they have are either a dial or slider to make it the photo lighter or darker. I’ve figured out how to hack the Spectra a bit to do double exposures but that’s about it on the manual side so it’s pretty much all auto.
Have you scanned in and done any post processing to any of your images?
I’ve scanned a hand full of images and done the usual spot/dust removal and light high pass sharpening to compensate for the softness that you get with scanning. With the Polaroid stuff I’m not trying to tweak it too much which is something new for me. I’m usually a darkroom nerd in that I see that as part of the image making process so just leaving the images alone is somewhat of a challenge for me, hahaha.
Are there any people whose work has influenced you?
Most of my Polaroid work is studio/office based but I really enjoy looking at street photography so I’m sure that’s influenced me to some degree. I’ve always been into the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank and more recently Richard Koci Hernandez and Eric Kim.
For more daily radness, be sure to follow Chip on Instagram! (@chipriggs