RAW & INSTANT – POLAROIDS BY DON LIM {INTERVIEW / NSFW PHOTOGRAPHY}

Film is not dead, folks. Meet Don Lim, photographer and film purist, who is taking the art world by storm. His mission: to showcase women in their most natural states. Read on for his full story below:

How did you get into photography?

As a kid, I was always fascinated with any kind of camera equipment. I always was the one carrying the family camcorder when we went on trips, and I would feel such joy capturing memories. I remember shooting some mini-movies with my cousins and just having stupid, imaginative fun. I was first exposed to portraiture when my older cousin, Arnold, shot me as his subject. One of the photos that he shot of me was put up in a gallery, and it’s been a dream of mine since then to follow suit.

Tell us about the first time you shot with film. What did you shoot? How did you feel after?

Keeping past recollections as a kid aside, the first time I shot film and truly comprehended what I was doing was when I was in high school. I took a simple Black & White film photography class as an elective. I don’t recall the very first thing I shot, but I remember one of the early assignments was to shoot “textures.” Lame, right? At the time I thought so, but thinking back at it now, I can see how that assignment really opened my eyes to paying attention to details. But learning how to shoot, learning the fundamentals of photography, going into that dark room and developing your own film and photos, it just all made me feel so understanding of why my cousin loved photography so much. That was the class I looked most forward to everyday.

Tell us about Raw & Instant. How did it begin?
 
My plan with Raw & Instant was to photograph females and show off their beauty in the most straightforward way possible, through non-retouched, unaltered photos. Almost 4 years later, Raw & Instant is still here, and going strong.

Raw & Instant began in a very interesting way. At some point in time during college, I saw that one of my favorite Japanese photographers would shoot women in very provocative ways using what looked like Polaroids, but in smaller film size. After doing some research, I realized he was using a new age polaroid camera called an Instax Mini that was made by Fujifilm. The thing that finally made me get off my ass and start up Raw & Instant was when one of my best friends, William, came over to my house after one of his weekly trips to the Thrift store with a very unique and old looking Polaroid. It was nothing I’d seen before. After finding out that the film for it was still being massively produced today, we went ahead and grabbed a pack at the local camera supply warehouse and took some shots. After I peeled off that first exposure from that camera, I was instantly enamored and in love. I hopped on Ebay and bought myself one, and that was the beginning to Raw & Instant.

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What message are you trying to convey?

A lot of people think that the message I am trying to portray is something anti-digital, and I want to state here that that was never my intention and it never will be. The main goal of Raw & Instant is to challenge myself and at the same time encourage models to express their beauty and sexuality in the most raw, non-glamorous way possible. The best solution to that is with a photo that is already finalized right in front of us, an instant photo! “What you see is what you get” is what I would say. I further emphasize on this “raw” form of model photography by not using any kind of studio set-ups or lighting, just using available light and on-board camera flashes, and of course, not doing any form of digital alterations of any kind, photoshop, etc. The only digital thing I do with my photos is scan them into the computer!

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What has been the response from the industry, friends, peers?

The response from the industry has been mixed, but mainly positive. A lot of people and other artists respect what I am doing and agree with what I am trying to get across. Doing this for the last couple years, I have come across many others who shoot only with instant film as well, and getting to talk to those people has given me a positive outlook for Raw & Instant, and other instant film shooters as a whole. I have had a couple friends try to persuade me to drop the whole instant film thing and to just go to digital, but I respectfully declined. I want to thank all my friends and family and followers who have supported me since day one, and for truly understanding what I aim to do.

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What is your current camera/film setup? What is your dream camera/film setup?

I have a lot of cameras. Dedicating my craft to using 100% instant film called for a variety in gear, so I am always Ebay and thrift store hunting. In my arsenal, I have vintage Polaroid Land cameras from the 1960’s, to present day instant film cameras like the Instax line by Fujifilm. All these cameras have different characteristics to them, leading to a diverse range of visual traits after developing. For every shoot, I use at least 7-8 different cameras, each with their own film types and properties. My dream camera set-up? I already have it! My Polaroid 600 SE, a.k.a. the “Goose,” and the Polaroid SLR 680. Both are fantastic cameras with the highest quality that Polaroid cameras can offer in my opinion.

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Why female models only? What image of women do you hope to convey with your work? 

My main portfolio consists of women only, but I actually have shot a couple of men as well. In fact, one of those shoots was published in print for a Hip-Hop/Music/Lifestyle magazine in the UK. But to be fair, yes, portfolio wise, it is females only because they are obviously more physically appealing to me, and to my specific audience. With Raw & Instant, I just want to show women as pure as possible. I remember in the very beginning, I was very strict about make-up, asking for light to no make up at all. As time went by, it became more about the women expressing themselves, and the only catch was that they would be completely unaltered. Raw & Instant serves as a challenge to models who are generally used to the typical photoshoot (studio, special lighting/strobes, full team of make-up artists, stylists, etc.), to step away from all that and pretty much shoot in a completely opposite way.

Who is your dream model?

Emily Ratajkowski. She has, in my opinion, the perfect….everything.

Where in LA do you like to drink? Eat? Party?

I’m not that LA party-goer, crazy night lifer, so I won’t be posting any night clubs or anything like that. But if it comes to going somewhere to relax and get some drinks, my preferred place to go is EightyTwo. It’s pretty much a “bar-cade,” a bar with a bunch of vintage and old school arcade cabinets and pinball machines. Super fun place, and they have great cocktails. My favorite place in LA in general is the entire area of Little Tokyo, in Downtown. Little Tokyo is pretty much my home away from home. I’m there at least a few times a month to go to my favorite shoe shop, eat my favorite Japanese food at places like Daikokuya, Orochon and Curry House, and even buy snacks and such at the Japanese Market. I love Japanese culture, hence why I love being there so much.
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In your opinion, what makes film a better medium for you?

There is nothing in the photographic world that I can compare to that gives you the same feeling of holding a photo  in your hands that you had just taken, seconds earlier, developing right in front of your eyes! Having a moment in time, captured and frozen, physically produced and in your hands in an instant is just gratifying.

If anything, I wish that the price of film (instant film especially) wasn’t so high, that way I wouldn’t be so broke right now! I don’t even want to estimate how much I have spent on film over the years.

What are your plans for the future of Raw and Instant?

When I first started, I had a vision of Raw & Instant to become some sort of brand. You can’t really market your name as a brand identity, like who the fuck would care about “Don Lim Photography”? I have already taken a couple steps in the merchandising direction, giving out free stickers and t-shirts via giveaways on Instagram. This was a hit, and my products “sold out” and were requested and sent all across the US and to multiple countries as well. So yes, I plan to make some more apparel, making some zines, and hopefully a photobook.

Photography by Don Lim Website / Instagram
Featuring Devon Trunk

About Dustin Hollywood

Professional Photographer & Founder/Editor-In-Chief of Nakid Magazine: Dustin Hollywood DustinHollywood.com Instagram.com/DustinHollywoodPhoto Twitter.com/DustinHollywood Facebook.com/DustinHollywood

One comment

  1. In the Box Load type, a certified copy of the software is
    bought from a licensed retail outlet.

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