Today a personal errand turned into an unexpected time killer. I was going to spend a few hours with my friend Will, a cabinetmaker by trade, who has a studio in the neighborhood. But, as you seem to hear too often these days (and almost always misattributed to John Lennon), “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’m going to try and reschedule with Will later in the month, to tour his studio and talk about his work.
Instead, with darkness falling nearly as fast as my inspiration, I grabbed one of my funky vintage cameras and decided that this post would be short and simple and spontaneous. My little plastic Polaroid Super Shooter Plus is a version of the 100 series Polaroid Land cameras from the 50’s through 70’s that used peel-apart pack film. Fuji still makes a version of this film that works in these cameras and it’s not that difficult to find online from one of the major photo supply stores on either coast. It uses the old-fashioned Sylvania and GE blue dot flash cubes, which are always available on eBay from people who have cleaned out a junk drawer for the first time in 20 years. It’s a crap shoot, of course, whether they’ll still be good, but I’ve found that, remarkably, they usually work fine. The camera itself, and others in the massive Polaroid line, are also available on eBay or sites like Etsy. I have several other Polaroid instant cameras and they are all fun but I love this version because the film is cheaper and the results are usually more reliable. Also, Fuji puts out a version of the peel-apart film in black and white, and there’s something about nighttime, flash-lit, black-and-white, instant images that just speaks to me. Tonight, they said, “get out of the house and shoot.”
I love my neighborhood. It is beautiful and complicated and inspiring and home. Sometimes it is alive in color and at other times it is the stark monochrome reality of a flash and an instant.
By definition, when you’re doing street photography, you typically have no idea what you’re going to shoot until you see it. Using an instant camera is a compelling way to lock down the emotion of the first impression. I had ten shots on this cartridge, three vintage flashcubes, and a couple of hours to finish this post. Welcome to my results.
All four of these photographs have 3 things in common:
1) They are scans of photographs shot with a Polaroid Super Shooter Plus on Fuji FP-300 instant film.
2) They were shot within a one block radius of my house.
3) They are all images that represent the scene of a recent crime.