Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Polaroid, I Love You.

I recently did some renovations in my art room and came across some old grad school projects. My favorite pieces are from a Polaroid series I shot. At the time I was taking a graduate photography course in NYC and was amongst some very talented photo majors. Yikes. I hate the darkroom. 

Some Polaroids of film & film camera. Ha.

 I was not a photo major and the serious photo majors could sniff me out a mile away. I was, as they soon figured out, an art history major. Gasp. That's right- the much frowned upon major by any serious fine arts major. I totally get it now. I was at the bottom of the art-world pecking order. And so they pecked. At every class discussion and critique, they scoffed at my views and opinions. So I kept quiet did what I wanted. 

For once, I did not conform. I dug my heels in and did not step foot in the damp, musty dark room, but instead, chose to express my photo narratives through Polaroids. Many of the photo students thought (and did express to my face), that I was taking the easy way out. I'd like to think of it as being ahead of the game. My love for the Polaroid stems back to my childhood straight through today's Instagram sensation. Why do I love Polaroids?
Polaroid of Gramps & the girls circa 1977

One of my Instagram shots
They are instant, tangible moments in time. Beyond the instant gratification, the color quality is what appeals to me. Unlike today's super high resolution, crystal-clear digital images, Polaroid prints have a desaturated, sometimes ghostly appearance. It's images seem slightly imperfect and has a certain retro feel to them. Enter: my obsession with the movie The Virgin Suicides (based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides) both written and directed by Sophia Coppola. Love her. Understatement. Sigh.
The quality of the film reminds me of the Polaroids I grew up loving. So when my photography professor outlined our next assignment to include some type of narrative, I whipped out my Polaroid, dragged Josh around the east village, and imagined a sister from the Coppola movie, party shoes on, hopeless and sadly taking her life. Here's what I came up with:

A few shots from the series.
As I hung my work for the class critique, the other photo majors paused, whispered and moved on. I took that as a compliment. Maybe they hated it, I'll never know because my professor didn't allow them to talk about their darkroom-developed prints. Instead he devoted the entire time to talking about my vision, the dark story being told, the beauty of Polaroid. I felt vindicated and justified. I didn't make any friends in that class, but that's ok. I was proud of my work and the fact that I didn't give into the norm. I wonder how many of those photo majors now have Instagram accounts. Shame on them! Just kidding.

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