Tuesday, September 04, 2007


There's something about well done Polaroid photographs that I've always liked - especially the SX70 style.

Those cyan blue or creamy skies; the slightly weird yet entirely pleasing colours; their one off - hold in the hand nature. The fact you still regularly find a fully functioning Polaroid camera at almost any garage sale (even if you can't find the film anymore). It seems like almost every home had one - or still does - and that even though the pictures often look somewhat unnatural, it's a look which has been absorbed and accepted by our collective unconscious as "normal"

Of course like Holga work, it's all to easy to overdo the Polaroid thing (though not quite as much of a danger as with Holgerism)

I recently came across some Polaroid work from (via Amy Elkins) of Taiwanese photographer -Nan Kuo which is rather lovely (above and below).

I've also liked the work from Japan - Tokyo Polaroid Plus - that I came across a few years ago - it seemed consistently good (unfortunately he switched to a Rollei I think at a later point)

And of course there is the master - Walker Evans' Polaroid work (hard to find much online) and found in the self-evidently titled book Walker Evans Polaroids. Apart from being some of the best early colour work it is also a fascinating insight into Evans' eye and his photography

My friend Jeffrey James once said he though Evan's Polaroid photography seemed a bit like Beethoven deciding to take up the Glockenspiel - a view I was pleased to see he revised after reading Geoff Dyers illuminating writing in The Ongoing Moment about Evan's taking up with the SX70. In part:

"... Both a reprise of and addendum to everything he had done before, the Polaroids made between September 1973 and November 1974 constitute a final radiant and unexpected extension of his vision. Revisiting his favourite motifs in a series of pellucid dreams, the 2,6o0 Polaroids are like a condensation of and an extended meditation on Winogrand's claim that Evans's "photographs are about what is photographed, and how what is photographed is changed by being photographed, and how things exist in photographs". His subjects remain the ones that had always dominated his work - empty buildings, discreet portraits, signs, found language - all strangely enhanced by the technical limitations of the camera..."

There's also a heavy duty essay on Walker Evans' Polaroid work here

(hmm and on looking up the Walker Evans book, I just discovered there are books of Polaroids by both Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Tarkovsky... cool)


Anonymous said...

Excelent finds. Thanks! Unfortunately, by the time I discovered the Polaroid SX-70 camera and someone who had had his in a drawer for nearly 25 years gave it to me, Polaroid discontinued its film...

Ed said...

Some of my favorite polaroid shots are by Mike Slack

tim atherton said...


you can convert them to take the 600 film (I'm just goign to try it for mine)

You need to pry out one ND filter on the light meter then ad an ND filter in front of the lens (I'm cutting one from a sheet from the little free Lee filters gel sheet sample pack)


(also http://www.chemie.unibas.ch/~holder/SX70.html which just add a 2xND filter insead of 1x - makes the viwer much darker)

Luis said...

With Polaroids, the evidentiary part of the medium is thrust to the fore, which, conversely, highlights its transformational function.

A photograph oscillates between fact and fiction, and Polaroids perhaps do this best.

Like a slide, they have that "This was there" aura, yet it is only an echo that remains.

Film is still available, though one must adapt the camera to it. I must have 3-4 SX-70s of different kinds still working.
My wife still has some of the old film, which is beginning to decay into oblivion.

--- Luis