North Texas Daily

Instant Denton captures moments through instant film photography

Instant Denton captures moments through instant film photography

Instant Denton captures moments through instant film photography
May 09
17:38 2022

With a Polaroid camera in hand, John Eric Munoz, photographer and UNT CoLab employee, photographs anything that catches his eye as he travels throughout Denton.

Working in the CoLab, Munoz admires the mediums of painting, drawing and other crafts, but his focus is mainly on photography — instant photography to be exact — which he got into five years ago as what he thought would be a short-term hobby.

“I needed a reason to actually shoot photos,” Munoz said.

Since then, Munoz started Instant Denton, his online platform to share his instant film photography work and sell prints. He started the brand in 2017 to motivate himself to shoot consistently and share his love for Denton through images.

“Instant Denton is pretty much me,” Munoz said. “It’s a one-man thing.”

However, he partners with models who are mainly his friends to become the subjects of his work. One of said friends includes Kendall McCrae, a producer for a local film and photo business.

“Instant Denton is […] a great expression of John Eric’s creativity and experimentation with film, as well as a platform to highlight some of the great things about Denton and the people who reside there,” McCrae said.

This is the same mission Munoz said he aimed to share when starting Instant Denton. Growing up in a small town, he said there was no push for small businesses to grow, but in Denton, he has noticed the opposite while feeling support from the community.

“You don’t have to leave Denton to find something to do,” Munoz said.

When taking photos, Munoz captures a moment, and instead of thinking of it as just a moment, he said he views it as documenting that moment in time, tying his photography experience in with his history degree that he earned from the university. Because of this, he does not consider himself an artist.

“It’s more,” Munoz said. “[I] document things in Denton […] that don’t exist anymore, like the old, scary Howdy Doody [sign] that didn’t light up.”

Munoz is also a board member of the Instant Film Society, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness, accessibility and understanding of instant analog photography. He hopes to further the group’s goals and encourages community members to come to a meeting if they are interested in film. By being part of the Instant Film Society, Munoz worked with PolaCon, a three-day festival in September that celebrated all things instant film and photography.

An accomplishment that Munoz prides himself on is working with and shooting Norman Roscoe, a shop in the Denton Square that sells screen-printed designs and merchandise. However, he said the pride in any of his works comes from making a new friend or working with a musician on the job.

“[It is] not necessarily an accomplishment in a measurable sense,” Munoz said.

One local photographer Munoz has befriended along the way is Ashley Highberger, someone who has done photography professionally for six years and met Munoz in 2021.

“He is very much like a technical brain photographer, so he knows how to breathe life into old cameras and how to use expired film,” Highberger said.

Highberger also said that Munoz is someone who extensively knows about the trade of photography, and she enjoys picking his brain to gain a better understanding of the craft.

Going forward, Munoz aims to hold more in-person gallery shows, such as at Texas Studio, a photo studio in Dallas.

“Gallery shows are nice because they usually, in most cases, work off a prompt or topic of some sort and then you can kind of frame what you photographed based around that,” Munoz said. “It gives you an idea of what to shoot.”

Featured Image: John Eric Munoz poses with his camera on April 8, 2022. Photo by Julianna Rangel

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Sofie Carlin

Sofie Carlin

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