Last July whilst explore the Black Hills near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota the strap of my Polaroid camera snapped and the whole thing went tumbling to the ground. The plastic cracked, but as far as I could tell no serious damage was done. Needless to say, I was so upset at myself that I put the camera in the back of my closet where it has lived until today.
I had been digging around the internet looking for inspiration and kept coming across photographers using instant film to shoot large bodies of work; an idea that had never once crossed my mind. I had always used mine like a tourist: capturing people that I wanted to remember and places I was proud to have been. Using this type of camera is pricey (six photographs cost around twenty dollars) but it’s fun. This is why I’ve always treated my Polaroid with the upmost respect, saving those six precious exposures for what the world might deem truly remarkable moments. This is also why I was so devastated when mine hit the rocky earth. My camera had power over me when I should have instead been taking control and shooting small, insignificant to the world, things that caught my eye. For example: I have a picture of Mount Rushmore, the same one you can find on google images, but not of the pine branch covered cave I nestled myself into to view it from.
I am beginning to realize that I, as a photographer and as an artist, have the power to make art with this tool. A tool just like my DSLR, my AE1, my Diana, my HOLGA, my pinholes, my 35mm point and shoots, my 110mm Barbie camera and my disposables. If I can make art with those, why not this camera too? It is nothing special, a pink Cool Pix that my mothers friend gave to her because she knew I liked to take pictures. A camera that has been dropped, in South Dakota of all places, and though I was heartbroken for the longest time, I will now be less sad when I inevitably drop it again. My Polaroid will now be added to my arsenal of cameras, a contender as I sit with a new idea debating what I should use to shoot.
After digging my Polaroid out of my closet from behind a couple dozen dresses, my winter blankets, two garden gnomes and a row of shoes, I realized I had no clue if it was loaded. There was a dozen roses on our coffee table which I grabbed and placed on my bedrooms wooden floor. After pulling the trigger not one, but two, pieces of film popped out. My first assumption was that my camera was damaged more severely on impact than I had originally thought. Intrigued, I took another rose picture; this time only one came out. All three images were taken within seconds of each other (two at the exact same time) and, interestingly enough, they all look radically different. This is why I love instant film (and I suppose why others hate it) it is wildly unpredictable.