3.20.2013

Old School Instagram. We used to call them Polaroids.


This grizzled, old relic (the print, not the subject...) is the precursor to the current trend of presenting distressed photographs. The only difference is that we didn't need to do anything to distress a typical Polaroid SX-70 print; they came mostly pre-distressed. Nevertheless we did spend some amount of time walking around with the bulky SX-70 cameras and snapping away at a couple bucks a frame.

When I got back from Boston last week I finally came to grips with the reality that my studio/office was an unorganized mess. I've been cleaning, sorting and throwing stuff out. My intentions were good and my energy adequate until I found a small box filled with old Polaroid images. I was organized enough to get a bunch of instant film prints into a box many years ago, just not organized enough to put a label on the box or to put it someplace logical.

The man in the image is my friend, Wyatt McSpadden. Originally from Amarillo, Texas, I rank him, along with our mutual friend,  designer/writer  Mike Hicks, as two of the funniest people I've ever encountered.

I have no idea why I was photographing Wyatt on the loading dock outside our studios in east Austin nearly twenty years ago. But I'm glad I did. It preserved the time for me and this small print brought back the whole feel of the time.

Can I suggest that you print out and save some of the digital images you currently take of family and friends? You may not always keep track of the digital work that we make these days but the sheer physical-ness of a printed object makes it a more valuable artifact. One that's easier to access and harder to throw away.

Amazing to me what power there is locked in a single image.










15 comments:

Bill Beebe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marvin G. Van Drunen said...

Yes, yes, yes! In years to come printed photographs will be more treasured than ever.When our photographic work stays on our memory cards or even our carefully backed-up hard discs or DVD's or (yikes) only on our phones I think they are in great danger of being lost, sooner or later. When I and my sisters were kids my parents regularly took us to a photo studio and had our portraits made by a pro using a huge (8x10?) view camera. I recently found a box of 8x10 black and white professionally printed portraits from that time. The old pro photographer is long gone but his work has lasted in as pristine a condition as it was 50 years ago. I treasure those prints. I really believe that a photograph isn't a photograph until it's been printed.

Dave Jenkins said...

+1

Robin Wong said...

I am not sure about your location Kirk, but here in Kuala Lumpur, lately there is a sudden surge of Polaroid users (old and new Polaroid cameras). There are Facebook and Flickr Groups with huge photo-walk outings dedicated only to Polaroid users. This has become quite a trend, and it is picking up momentum. Now the things I do not understand here... after shooting with the Polaroid, they basically get instant photographs, and gosh it did not stop there. Those photographs are then taken with either their camera phones or digital cameras and then uploaded to Instagram and Facebook....

John Krumm said...

One of my purchases lately was a wireless Canon do-all printer. I hadn't intended to use it for photos, but I keep 4x6 glossy paper in the top loader (you can still keep regular paper in the bottom) and every once in a while I'll go through three phones we have, printing the better shots straight from the phone. Very fun and easy. Not quite a Polaroid but about as easy and a lot more affordable.

Jim said...

Odd that you bring this up. I've been doing just the opposite lately, scanning old negatives (and Polaroids) so that I can more easily share the images with far-flung family and friends.

Glenn Harris said...

Long live the print.

Anonymous said...

No connection other than a Polaroid user..

http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/polaroid-impossible/

-salty

Anonymous said...

No Edit feature for me with afterthoughts ..

http://www.the-impossible-project.com/

-salty

arg said...

Great suggestion Kirk, I have been thinking of it but not acting on it. Now I will: thanks!

Ed Posthumus said...

I couldn’t agree more Kirk. I have been negligent for the past year and one of my current projects is to go through last year's pictures and figure out which one's to print for both the family albums and my own I just like the shots album. I find that this definitely makes me choosy about what I like because it costs money now. I may be to quick at the camera with shutter button but actually spending money instead of memory sure makes me slow down. I have found one advantage to waiting for a bit before I print is that even my edits from immediately after a particular session get narrowed even further.

Anton Wilhelm Stolzing said...

A brillant post. So short, so funny, and so thoughtful. Aphorism-style.

thequietphotographer said...

Yes, I love printing...
robert
http://thequietphotographer.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/isnt-printing-the-nicest-thing/

Michael Matthews said...

If memory serves, Ansel Adams signed on to work for Polaroid doing color photography. He took a lot of heat from purists of the era for doing so, but managed to produce some very nice color work, none of which look pre-distressed in the least.

Kirk Tuck said...

Yes, my friend. He was using peel apart, 4x5 inch professional color Polaroid. Not the encapsulated stuff that came squirting out of the plastic SX-70 cameras. Unless you know something I don't......

We could do lovely stuff with the big film in the big cameras. Especially the 8x10 Polaroid films. Often used directly for advertising projects.