Influencer Joel Thorpe taking a selfie on the Canon Zoemini S on Brighton beach front.


Develop your style with instant cameras: an influencer's top tips

Instagram influencer Joel Thorpe started developing his distinct photography style after receiving a camera for his 15th birthday and posting a few shots online. "I had no idea what I was doing, but the more I shot, the more I developed," he says. "The Instagram scene was fairly new back then, so my following grew quite quickly."
Based in Brighton, England, Joel had secured a place at university to study cinematography but his passion for photography escalated during a gap year that's never really ended, and he now shoots content for tourist boards, hotels and global brands.
The 22-year-old has recently started experimenting with prints in his street photography – incorporating handheld photos of a scene within a photo of the scene to create a unique focal point. "It ties into the whole notion of why I got into photography," he reveals. "Aside from the career side of things, photography to me is basically a way to keep hold of experiences and good memories. Having a physical print has that kind of nostalgia element to it, and I feel like the memories last a little bit longer. So I started playing around with that a while back and adding actual handheld prints within the shots. It's all about holding on to those memories."

Shooting in his home city of Brighton, Joel photographed local landmarks and added another creative dimension to his images with prints made using the Canon Zoemini S to reflect the scene in the background.

Joel uses the pocket-sized 8-megapixel Canon Zoemini S instant camera because it's portable and lightweight. "It's really easy to use and I love how compact it is," he says. "For such a small, slimline device it packs a lot of features."

Here, he reveals his tips for building a social media brand and why he hopes his shots will inspire other photographers to experiment with print.

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Not every scene lends itself to this sort of image. "Typically, you want something that's bold and striking," Joel explains. "Getting up close to your subject and ensuring it's the focal point is going to give you a better result. You need to be able to clearly identify the image in the background so viewers understand what they are looking at."

"It's about creating a consistent look that hopefully people come to recognise as your own," Joel says. Consistency doesn't mean being afraid to embrace new techniques, though. "I still try to implement original concepts in my work to try to differentiate from the norm," he says. The versatility of the Canon Zoemini S has allowed Joel to try a range of new creative techniques. "The world's your oyster with this device," he says.

"I feel like the memories last a little bit longer in physical form, so I started playing around and including handheld prints in the shots to introduce an element of nostalgia. It's a nice way to incorporate that extra level of creativity and it gives the audience something else to focus on."

It's important to follow your own vision, Joel adds, not just shoot what you think your audience will like. "It's always nice to get positive feedback on social media and see what kind of shots followers appreciate," he says. "But I think you have to consider what you actually want to create. It's very easy to become one of many by sticking to what other photographers are doing. As long as you retain your originality and stick to what you enjoy doing, the rest will fall into place."

Composition is key

Joel holds his prints in the images, which adds a personal touch and an additional depth, creating a more memorable final image than simply photographing a subject.

Joel composes these shots with prints in mind and typically shoots with a shallow depth of field (a small zone of focus), so the print in the centre of the image is in focus but the background is blurred. "I create a physical print, centralise it and then shoot again on my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II [now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III]. The viewer recognises the location because of the similarity between the print and the backdrop," Joel explains.

"The key thing is to make sure the image is good enough. With digital cameras, you can keep on snapping, but the physical form makes you really take care with the photo to ensure that you've got a good enough image to work with.

"I’ve been really impressed with the Canon Zoemini S," Joel adds. "The colour is true to the eye, whether it's at the 'golden hour' or broad daylight, which is always a challenge to shoot in and expose properly. It's very easy to use the viewfinder to compose shots – and composition is the main thing I've got to get right to get to that end concept and ensure the look of the print matches the backdrop."

Experiment with personalisation

An infographic showing how the Canon Zoemini S can be used with the Canon Mini Print App.
Joel used the Canon Mini Print app to connect the Canon Zoemini S to his smartphone via Bluetooth. "It's so simple to use. I can upload my camera roll to the app, hit Print, and it delivers a really nice result," he says. The prints can also be used as stickers. "You can get really creative," says Joel. "You could have a whole wall filled with stickers or stick them on your laptop or a phone," he says.

Joel uses the Canon Mini Print app on his smartphone, connected to the Canon Zoemini S via Bluetooth, to create even more unique images, adding frames, filters, text and doodles. If he wants to get a shot from an awkward angle, he can set up the Canon Zoemini S in position and use the app's self-timer and remote shutter options to take the shot.

Joel recommends experimenting with the Canon Zoemini S until you get a result that you like. "You can have a square crop on the print, which offers a different element to the whole experience. You've also got the ring flash, which is great for indoor use," he says. "There's a lot of versatility when it comes to this kind of creative style. There is so much you can do if you think outside the box. Just get out there, explore, take some photos and see what happens." 

Written by Tamzin Wilks

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