365 Days of Polaroid - 50 Days and counting

On December 22nd 2016, after bouncing the idea off a few trusted friends and family, I quietly began a new project. While some of those reading this may be familiar with it already, via my instagram posts of simply through discovery of this endeavor among the project tab on this website, I have begun recording images upon Impossible Film and posting one per day within the project's gallery.

How it began

The project initially began as many 365 projects do, as an effort to both keep myself creative and avoid falling into a depressive or unproductive state. In late 2016 I was diagnosed with depression and was searching for something to distract myself. I was initially inspired by Jaime Livingston, a photographer and member of The Janus Circus, who spent years (from 1979) recording Polaroid images every day until the day he died Oct 25 1997. His commitment and honesty were what helped me resolve to commit to 365 days of Polaroid. As much to look back and see my own life from an outside perspective as to share my journey with others.

The Cameras

The project is currently being captured using two original Polaroid 600 cameras. The first is affectionately known as 'The Whale' as it has a small blue and grey body and when closed looks just like a little whale. It is the basic Polaroid 600 Model with no lighten or darken abilities. 'The Whale' came into my possession when I swapped a FujiFilm Instax Mini to a former partner because I wound up with two of the same camera. I mainly use the Whale when capturing people after dark due to the inability to control exposure outside a rough 'average'.

The second camera is a 'traditional' lookingsquare,  black Polaroid 'One-Step' 600, which has full lighten and darken options and is the camera I use the most as it is more versatile. This camera came into my possession as a gift/loan from my closest friend before he departed Australia to spend two years working and traveling the United States. It has been wonderful to be able to partially credit the current success of the project to my friend, as every time I take a shot It feels likes he is right there cheering me on.

The goal

The primary aim of the project is to post only Polaroid images taken within the time frame of the project, that have otherwise been unseen until this point. This means that every image contained in the project is a new creation, ensuring that I must go out and create, or be ready to capture images at any moment.

There have been a few exceptions, as some images for this project are taken during collaborative projects that have been published this year. However no image featured has been captured prior to the beginning of the project.

The secondary goal of the project is to give viewers a glimpse into, or an understanding of, how I see the world. Both the beauty and ugliness,  the heroic and the desperate, the personal and the impersonal.

Discoveries so far

50 Days of nonstop creativity with a 24 hr deadline have taught me several things but key among them are the following lessons;

Organisation is Key

While mostly obvious,  this project results in the requirement to essentially enter into a hyper-vigilant state of organisation. Making sure I ALWAYS have a fully loaded 600 Camera on my person or nearby at all times. To ensure I have enough film stock in reserve in case I get a dud-cartridge (essentially a packet of Impossible film where the emulsion has been damaged or heated beyond the ability to record any image). And of course to ensure that not only am I keeping up with posting the images on time, but making sure that I have enough time to scan and digitize the images without building up too much of a backlog.

You can never have enough film!

I've already lost count of the number of times I've gone to take a shot and wound up firing with an empty film-cartridge. This is exacerbated by the misleading combination of Polaroid cameras with Impossible film. The original Polaroid 600 Series takes a cartridge that contains 10 Polaroid film slips. Modern Impossible film cartridges contain only 8. This means that the camera displays 2 images remaining when you are actually at zero. Slightly frustrating when I switch between cameras depending on the day or film type I feel like shooting. Because of this I've taken to always carrying at least one additional cartridge at all times in my camera bag.

Love your imperfections!

You will notice that in some of the images there are bright blue or white "waves" along the bottom edge. This can be caused by imperfections on the rollers that spit out the finished Polaroid, or too much emulsion within that particular Polaroid slip. While sometimes I find this frustrating, I do find myself anticipating whether the effect will add or detract from the image each time I pull the trigger, and I feel that many of the images are that much more intriguing and exciting for it.

It's expensive.

I'm not kidding. Even bought in bulk from the Netherlands Factory, Impossible film rangers between $36 - $40 Australian per packet. So if you're thinking about rushing out and loading up be prepared to spend some money. And because of this, the best advice I can give to anyone is to take your time. Give each image the time, composition and respect it deserves.

Day 8.jpg

Going forward

As the project approaches its third month of life, my resolutions are to ensure that I keep posting regularly, and on time, to be even more honest with my view of the world and to be braver in pursuing the images I want to create, regardless of how people may react.

For those of you reading this, I hope that some of what I have said resonates with you, and even if it doesn't inspire you to go out and dig up your old Polaroids, I hope that it does encourage you to be honest with the world, yourself and to pursue your creative passions. Whatever they may be.

We may not last forever, but our work might. So go create something.

*you can view all the images from this project in the Instant Film section of the Projects Tab*