The titular catchphrase is from Monty Python sketches of the 70s and quite appropriate too as I’ve gone vintage with my Christmas wishlist. Of-course ageing brings on a tendency to retrospect but I always had a soft spot for Polaroids. These were the days when people annotated dates and titles on the back of their snaps and because Polaroids have a black back, the print was given a thicker lower edge on which to write. [all the following images are just my Polaroid mock-ups, colour adjusted and framed in a rather ancient Picasa 3.9 – click to enlarge]
A while back, I bought Jon Nicholsons’s book: “Seaside Polaroids”. Charmingly captured holidays resorts using out of date film, which gave interesting colour casts to the shots and added much character to a faded past.
But the current exhibition of Wim Wenders at the Photographer’s Gallery in London has accelerated me from interested party to enthusiast.
As I become more serious about honing photographic skills, the less controlled Polaroid image offers some light relief, especially as it is likely to be more blurry, high contrast with metallic blues and yellowing whites. Black and white film tends to fade to sepia quite quickly.
Polaroids have all the unpredictability of a lucky dip in fact, a crapshoot, a shot in the dark. The imperfections are a major part of their charm and there are likely to be many.
The square framed format is what we most associate with Polaroids and one which Instagram has made much of. However the camera on my wish list is the Spectra – the 600 iso film is slightly more forgiving of lower light without flash, than the original s-70. It produces squat rectangular image in a ratio of 1:0.82 to be exact. This gives wider/longer frames for landscape/portrait and has some additional switches for effects such as double exposures.
The Polaroid cameras have more than a few drawbacks in terms of image production and not least the cost of the film. In the Photographer’s Gallery there is a video of Wenders repeatedly churning out shots – not something that these days we can afford to do since the film is in much smaller production and hence retails at higher prices – average £2.00 per shot – must make every one count.
I know there are online sites like PicMonkey and Photobox as well as apps which emulate and/or print Polaroid effects – fun but faux. After all they are virtually too instant and miss out the waiting and watching for the developing image – keeping it warmer for toasty hues and cooler for a bluer cast. Not unlike magic painting. Bring it on Santa.
Jon Nicholson – Seaside Polaroids
Wim Wenders – Instant Stories – the Photographers Gallery
Polaroid Originals [was the Impossible Camera Co]