Interview with Vogue International for Instagram

October 29, 2019

“The small size of a Polaroid demands your attention and challenges me to pack a punch into one photo,” says Catherine Costanzo. Her passion for film photography began in childhood: “I couldn’t be pulled away from a camera. I couldn’t wait for the photos to get back from the developer.

I’m sure you remember those exciting, instant cameras when you were a kid. We gathered with friends and family, sought out the dog or car and snapped a photo. Stuck it to the fridge or gave them away to our guests.

An expensive hobby and student life didn’t mix, so Catherine’s initial enthusiasm for photography faded in her teens. She focused on graphic design at college. Then she found a vintage camera gathering dust at home – an old gift from her grandfather. “I got some film for this Polaroid camera and started creating with it.” She’s hardly put it down since.

“It was Halloween night and my dad and I were at home, looking for our stash of creepy masks. Naturally, my dad put on one of the masks and started being silly. I just had to capture the moment so I grabbed my camera and took his photo peeking out of the closet, using a small light to focus on the face. Boo! We ended up with the floating pumpkin head.”

“I love using the shadow of my hand in my photography. While one hand is taking the photo, the other is working the scene. My hand brings a personal element to a photo that might have felt distant to a viewer without it.”

“Making a photograph could take as little time as jumping out of bed and finding a shot outside in the morning sun, or as long as a week of thoughtfully planning out an interesting, spooky series. I find when I think about it too long, however, I don’t get the right photo.”

For Catherine Costanzo, the magic of film is the reveal, when the film is developed: “How I envision the scene through the lens doesn’t necessarily mean it will come out as crisp and vibrant as I imagined.

“With instant film, you find out in 10 minutes or so and with 35mm it’s more of a waiting game. Film has taught me to be more patient that’s for sure.”

Catherine has plenty of advice for aspiring photographers: “Don’t give up! I shot a whole pack of bad Polaroids. I got film jammed in a Spectra camera. I didn’t wind on a roll of film properly and shot a bunch of imaginary images. Film is not easy, but if you love photography, just keep trying. Even if it makes you want to throw it all in the trash and go digital.”