Polaroid: Cause for change?
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The role of the Polaroid has been one of importance for decades, whether for light tests, quick family snaps or stand alone shoots. But these days, with the rapid decrease of availability of traditional Polaroid format variety, many have given up hope. Although I wasn’t shooting during the heyday of Polaroid usage in professional photography, I know that the integration of Polaroids is still a beautiful thing regardless of how hard it is to come by.
Like many of you, I’ve gone through many creative ruts (most of which occur during the Winter); I needed change. What really set things in motion was stumbling onto Transform, the Scott Kelby video post put together by Zack Arias of Atlanta. I stewed on that video for weeks before I could really identify what was going on with my creative flow.
My conclusion? TOO MUCH CLUTTER, TOO MUCH OVER THINKING, AND NOT ENOUGH OF THE BASICS.
While I had a vision in my head, my finished product was never a cohesive match. I was so preoccupied by lighting ratios, model cooperation, locations, etc; it really killed the spontaneity and the natural flow of beautiful images for me.
Fast forward 2 months. I’ve been following the work of Austin, TX-based Julian Humphries for 5 years. He is a master of various Polaroid formats. This guy is the reason I picked up a Polaroid camera at one of the local thrift stores. After scouring his Dr Polaroid Model Mayhem page, his blog, his website and his Facebook, I picked up enough knowledge to start selecting films for upcoming projects. First film purchase was Polaroid TZ Artistic and Impossible Project PX100 First Flush. I traveled up to Washington, DC with a bag full of Polaroid film and slam dunked some killer images with half a dozen models in the Highlander Motel in Arlington, VA.
What did I learn? I’ve come to the realization that the day I started shooting integral films (instant films like Polaroids, etc), I morphed into a completely different photographer. The utter simplicity of instant films allows me to get back to the roots of my love for photography. No longer am I consumed entirely by the thoughts of gear and the necessity of assistants while shooting. Bags of lights, lenses, extra cameras, etc. became my security blanket. My mind was clouded with the things that didn’t matter. 30 years from now when I look at images I’ve shot, I won’t care what camera I used or what shutter speed it was or how I did my post processing in Adobe.
I can’t imagine where I’ll be in the next 5 years. I’m not turning my back on the past; I’m just enjoying the present a lot more now. I haven’t given up digital photography; I’ve allowed analog to become a more important creative tool in my bag. If you’re going through a creative rut, start thinking outside the box. Maybe Polaroid is for you, maybe not. With the introduction of The Impossible Project and the continued efforts of Fuji, you have the opportunity to give instant films a try. Between a $5 thrift store Polaroid and a few $20 boxes of film, you might be pleasantly surprised at what happens inside you.