A term that was first coined in Japan in the 1980s, White Day is typically celebrated on 14 March, one month after Valentine’s Day. In appreciation for the gifts they received on Valentine’s Day, people (mostly males) would give a gift to their admirer in return on this day. Although it first began in Japan, this holiday is now celebrated in various countries across South East Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan and even in some of the bigger cities in China.
As photographs are a perfect medium to remember special occasions with, we decided to speak to three couples in the instant photography community to discover how they came together through a bond sparked by photography. Likewise, while most of us in Singapore don’t celebrate White Day, we asked our couples what they would gift each other if they were to celebrate the occasion.
The first couple we asked, Brandon and Phoebe, run a Polaroid retail company known to the instant photography community as OKB. “It’s another chance for me to get chocolates from Brandon!” Phoebe laughs, as Brandon told us that he was unaware of White Day’s existence. “I guess I’ll have to get Phoebe chocolates now on every White Day…” He muses.
Our second couple (Damian and Sandra) on the other hand, are well known in the instant photography community and go by the moniker damianwithsandra. Despite not celebrating White Day, they expressed that they typically like to give things to each other regardless of the occasion, and don’t have any views on this holiday in particular.
Last but not least, our third couple consists of Felix, who is well versed in lomography shots and Hanna who is known for her double exposure images. “[White Day] is an interesting take on appreciation because reminds the men to celebrate their partners. If we were to celebrate it, I’d give Hanna some white frame Polaroids and take her to art galleries,” said Felix, while Hanna decided that she would love to “get Felix a white set of wheels or a pair of trucks for his longboards for White day,” before going for a stroll with skates and a polaroid camera in tow.
More about each couple…
BRANDON & PHOEBE
Fun and quirky with a ribbon or handkerchief in her hair, you’ll never miss spotting Phoebe on the streets. As much as this fashionista is an avid photographer both at leisure and professionally, her real love for Polaroids began with wefies taken on an old polaroid camera. In contrast, Brandon’s love for instant photography sparked with an old Polaroid photo taken during his youth.
Although they only met briefly online, their chance meeting quickly became a regular occurrence after Brandon first invited Phoebe out on a photowalk with his friends from the instant photography community. This common interest was later fueled by a pet peeve shared between both of them (“not all instant photography are Polaroids!“), which led Brandon to ask Phoebe on a date over a vintage Hello Kitty Polaroid.
The rest is history as the couple attend conventions and flea markets together, setting up booths and eventually, a company fueled by their passion for Polaroids. “One of our best experiences till date was at the first culture cartel convention. We had a Polaroid booth at the marketplace, and the highlight was hunting for people to shoot around the event space during our break. We managed to catch a graffiti artist, a prominent KOL of the street scene, and even the event organiser on Polaroid!”
DAMIAN & SANDRA
Having been together for several years, Damian and Sandra were classmates in polytechnic, and both discovered their love for photography before they met. Although they spent some time apart during their university days, they eventually got together officially after graduation and reignited their passion for instant film photography together.
I moved away from it but never forgot about Polaroids…
“When we first explored the world of instant film photography together, we were disappointed to hear that Polaroid had long ceased their production of analog film and cameras. However, we encountered the Impossible Project; a group of like-minded individuals who had painstakingly acquired old Polaroid technology to recreate and re-produce integral film. We got our first SX-70 Sonar Polaroid Camera and Impossible Project film, and our first time shooting the film was an exciting adventure, unknown or unaware of how the film would turn out,” shared the couple while telling us about their Instagram account, which documents their photography journey in the hopes of meeting other like-minded enthusiasts.
Along the paths they’ve weathered in their photography journey, one of their most memorable experiences lie in their trip to Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. Having planned this leg of their Europe trip with photography in mind, it comes as no surprise that they managed to capture precious moments in shooting the night sky and stars in the middle of North Cyprus; standing from the mountains of Meteora and watching the sunset; and capturing the centuries-old monuments in the heart of Istanbul.
FELIX & HANNA
Yet another couple to meet through the internet, Felix and Hanna found each other through the online photography community on lomography a few years ago. They finally met face-to-face in Manila while Hanna was on holiday, and eventually progressed from being very good friends to being in a relationship for the past almost seven years. Although they are now dating long distance (Felix is in Malaysia and Hanna is in Singapore), they find joy in their shared love for photography and show each other the interesting spots in their respective cities whenever they have the opportunity to travel together.
While Hanna’s first experience with Polaroids came from borrowing Felix’s cameras, he eventually gifted her with her very own Polaroid camera for Christmas, which she then relied on to keep herself preoccupied during the Covid-19 lockdown period in Singapore. “That’s when I really fell in love with it.”
In contrast, Felix first came across Polaroid photography in a film shop in Manila. “They were selling Polaroid cameras and film along with Lomography (Lomo) products. I was into film and Lomo at the time, and Polaroid definitely piqued my interest but it was quite expensive for me at the time.” It was only later on that Felix rediscovered Polaroids through SX-70 cameras in a bid to explore portrait photography.
Tips and tricks?
As we moved to understand more about instant photography and Polaroid in particular, we asked our three couples to share their advice for people embarking on their instant photography journeys for the first time.
“Just grab a camera and start shooting, you will start discovering what you like and don’t like about it,” advises Brandon, “and also, join groups like ours for updates and photowalks. That’s the best way to learn and meet the rest!”
“Learn to embrace the imperfections of shooting Polaroid film! In the first place, Polaroids are known to produce softer tones, so one should not expect the same quality as digital cameras. In fact, the soft tones of the Polaroid appeal to some photographers, even despite shooting with sharp lenses. Further, we believe the beauty of shooting Polaroids lies in its occasional unpredictability.”
Damian and Sandra share that despite obtaining unintended results at times during their journey as instant photographers, “we thrive in that moment of anticipation and excitement while we wait for the physical Polaroid to develop. Ultimately, the experience of shooting Polaroid film matters even more than the result, as it helps you to be a better photographer and also to learn how to appreciate this beautiful medium.”
Likewise, Felix encourages us to “appreciate the quirks of polaroid film and explore different ways of shooting it; there’s no wrong way!” while Hanna reminds us not to be afraid of making mistakes. “Have fun! There’s so many things you can do with shooting on polaroids!”
As White Day drops in on us (today!), how would you celebrate this second Valentine’s Day? Tell us here!