Sunday, September 11, 2011

Introducing, my Polaroid project...

I am going to do a “Polaroid” (or at least an instant film) photography project.  Let me preface this by stating, no, I do not have a Polaroid, or any other type of instant camera, or any instant film.  What I do have, however, is an insatiable appetite for anything photography related.  That, and a variety of experience with both analog and digital ( photography.  So, I am confident that I can learn what needs to be learned and figure out any challenges along the way.  I invite you to join me on that journey, by following and commenting on my progress.
Why, in this digital age, would I want to go back to instant film?  I actually have to thank Professor Jann Freed for the initial motivation.  She is the instructor for a leadership class that I am taking.  One component of her class is that we complete a creativity project.  After making a whole list of ideas that I’ve always wanted to do, or get back to doing, I came to the conclusion that traditional photography would be something I could throw myself into happily.  But, plain and simple, there is no way that I have time to process film and proceed in a way that I could journal on weekly.  That is what lead me to the instant film idea.
There has always been a certain magic to Polaroid photos.  The quality is often not really that good, and you don’t often see really exciting subjects either.  That’s part of the beauty, its just every day life.  Its not about taking award winning photos or technical perfection.  Its just regular life... but, shown in a way that will hopefully evoke an emotional response.  If I can make some smile by giving them an instant print, then the project has made the world a better place, in a little way, anyway.  I anticipate shooting with Polaroid to be an entertaining experience, as just pulling one of these cameras out will be a magnet for people’s curiosity.
Digital photography quickly took the wind out of film’s sail.  Then, when Polaroid quit making instant film a few years ago, that nearly sealed the coffin for instant photography.  But, the Polaroid culture couldn’t be wiped out quite that easily.  When Polaroid threw in the towel, that eliminated the copyright issues preventing Fujifilm from bringing their instant film products to the United States.  The name, Polaroid, is now becoming synonymous with instant photography, kind of like all locking pliers are generally called Vice-Grips.
While it would be possible for me to do my “Polaroid” project without the use of any Polaroid products, I am not going that route quite yet.  A small part of it is because of cost.  I do have a 4x5 Graflex Super Graphic large format camera that I could equip with a film back to use instant film packs.  But, the 4x5 film costs three times as much as the slightly smaller 3 1/4 x 4 1/4.  I’ll get to the instant large format arena at some point, but not now.  The big reason, though, is tradition.  I want to recreate a little part of photo history by using the equipment they used 40 years ago.  
When I need a fresh perspective on my photography, I often like to get back to the basics.  That can mean a lot of different things, like switching to black and white, forcing myself to shoot with a single, prime lens, etc.  In this case, it will likely mean all of those things.  So, it should force me to think differently than I do in my usual photography.  Please stop back soon, as this project will  hopefully be kicking into gear this week.  Let the adventure begin!

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