Photography is an art form that allows us to capture fleeting moments, freeze time, and share our unique perspectives with the world. For American-born photographer Erin O’Leary, photography is not just a means of expression, but a lifelong passion that has taken her on a journey of self-discovery and artistic exploration. Currently residing in the vibrant city of Berlin, Germany, Erin has found her niche in creating instant collages and pushing the boundaries of traditional photographic processes.

Erin’s fascination with photography began at an early age, surrounded by a family of photographers and videographers. Growing up in Frederick, Maryland, she was exposed to the power of visual storytelling from an early age. It was her grandfather who ignited her passion by gifting her a 35mm Minolta camera when she was just 15. Together, they embarked on a photography adventure, capturing the breathtaking New York Skyline. This experience laid the foundation for Erin’s future endeavours.

After high school, Erin pursued her passion by studying photography at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where her focus shifted towards photojournalism and documentary photography. However, it was during her time at MTSU that she first encountered the allure of instant photography. Inspired by the works of renowned artist David Hockney and her classmate’s mesmerizing Polaroid collage project, Erin fell in love with the unique qualities of instant film.


Armed with her newly acquired knowledge and a thirst for exploration, Erin embarked on a journey to turn her childhood dreams of travelling the world into a reality. She studied abroad in Costa Rica, backpacked across Southeast Asia, and immersed herself in diverse cultures, collecting experiences and capturing moments with her camera. Eventually, her travels led her to Poland, China, and finally, Berlin, Germany, where she decided to lay down her roots in 2016.


It was in 2019 that Erin’s artistic journey took a transformative turn when she acquired her first Instax Mini 90 camera. The simplicity and instant gratification of instant photography fascinated her, and she quickly became enamoured with the medium. Within a month of getting her hands on the camera, Erin began experimenting with collages, utilizing the unique characteristics of instant film to create captivating and whimsical compositions.



Erin’s creative process involves a fusion of art, photography, and scientific experimentation. With each click of the shutter, she captures fragments of time, weaving them together into captivating stories. She embraces alternative processes and techniques, incorporating panoramic, triptych, and composite images into her collages. By defying the constraints of traditional photography, Erin creates a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere, inviting viewers to embark on a visual journey alongside her.



One of the defining aspects of Erin’s work is the influence of her experiences working with children. Teaching children in different parts of the world has allowed her to infuse her photography with a sense of joy, playfulness, exploration, and self-discovery. Her collages often reflect a childlike wonder and an imaginative spirit, transporting viewers into a world where reality and fantasy seamlessly intertwine.


Despite living in a digital age where instant gratification and image manipulation are the norms, Erin finds solace in the hands-on experience of darkroom printing. Watching her images slowly appear before her eyes bring her immense satisfaction and a deeper connection to her art. It is this intimate connection with the medium that sets Erin apart and adds an extra layer of authenticity to her work.


Erin O’Leary’s journey as a photographer showcases the power of following one’s passion and embracing the unknown. From her humble beginnings in Charlotte, North Carolina, to her current artistic exploration in Berlin, Germany, Erin’s dedication to her craft and willingness to push boundaries has allowed her to carve out a unique niche in the world of instant collages. Through her photographs, she invites us to see the world through her eyes, where imagination knows no bounds, and art and science intertwine to create something truly extraordinary.




1 Title: Just After Dawn
1 Location: Verona, Italy
1 Date: 03/2023 1 Process: Instant Composite shot with Fujifilm X-T3, printed on Instax Square Film
2 Title: English Book Shop
2 Location: Berlin, Germany
2 Date: 04/2023
2 Process: Negative Reclamation on Polaroid I-Type film
3 Title: Verona Church
3 Location: Verona, Italy
3 Date: 03/2023 3 Process: Instant Composite shot with Fujifilm X-T3, printed on Instax Square Film
4 Title: Sunrise
4 Location: Berlin, Germany
4 Date: 01/2023 4 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini Evo on Instax Mini Film
5 Title: My Life in Lockdown
5 Location: Berlin, Germany
5 Date: 04/2020 5 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini 90 on Instax Mini Film
6 Title: Birds 6 Location: Berlin, Germany
6 Date: 12/2022 6 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Sq6 on Instax Square Film
7 Title: Yellow Wood 7 Location: Berlin, Germany
7 Date: 12/2022 7 Process: Instant Composite on Instax Square Film
8 Title: Brooklyn Bridge
8 Location: Brooklyn, New York, NY, USA
8 Date: 09/2021
8 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini 90 on Instax Mini Film
9 Title: Lonely Hearts, Memories Series
9 Location: Berlin, Germany
9 Date: 03/2023
9 Process: Instant Collage on Instax Square Film
10 Title: Sepia Toned Forest
10 Location: Berlin, Germany
10 Date: 09/2021
10 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini 90 on Instax Mini Film, toned with tea and apple cider vinegar
11 Title: The Berlin Wall
11 Location: Berlin, Germany
11 Date: 08/2022
11 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini Evo on Instax Mini Film
12 Title: My Valentine
12 Location: Berlin, Germany
12 Date: 02/2023
12 Process: Instant Collage shot with Instax Mini Evo on Instax Mini Film, mounted w/ dried rose petals
13 Title: Fading into the Abyss 13 Location: Berlin, Germany
13 Date: 04/2023
13 Process: Double exposure shot with the Polaroid Now on Polaroid i-Type Film, manipulated w/ baking soda and apple cider vinegar
14 Title: Inglesia de la Vera Cruz 14 Location: Segovia, Spain
14 Date: 01/2023
14 Process: Instant Collage on Instax Mini Film
15 Title: Love Me, Don’t Leave Me, Memories Series
15 Location: Venice, Italy
15 Date: 02/2023
15 Process: Instant Collage on Instax Mini Film
16 Title: Senj, Croatia
16 Location: Senj, Croatia
16 Date: 08/2019
16 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini 90 on Instax Mini Film
17 Title: Poznan 17 Location: Poznan, Poland
17 Date: 06/2019
17 Process: Instant Composite shot with Instax Mini 90 on Instax Mini Film
18 Title: Sweet Was Yesterday, Memories Series
18 Location: Berlin, Germany
18 Date: 01/2023
18 Process: Instant Collage on Instax Square Film
19 Title: Technicolor
19 Location: Berlin, Germany
19 Date: 05/2023
19 Process: Polagram
on Instax Mini Film
20 Title: Comet
20 Location: Berlin, Germany
20 Date: 05/2023
20 Process: Polagram on Instax Square Film