Before the web, it was difficult to see what other photographers were doing. We haunted bookstores, looked at out of town newspapers; searching for signs of what other members of the tribe were up to.
Now, it is humbling, and more than a little frightening, to be aware of how many great photographers are out there doing wonderful work. But it is also a great opportunity to learn.
I look at a lot of photos every day. I feel that this exercise expands my concept of what is “possible.”
For a while, Trent Nelson had a collection of photographs of objects at his feet-with his feet in the photo-on his website. I had seen similar things from G.J. McCarthy and Jordan Murph.
Since I have a fondness for deadpan documentary style photos, I set to work creating some images of my own. But without the snazzy footware of the other practitioners.
After a while I had a group of photos but no good idea what to do with them.
Then, in late January 2013, Baltimore photographer Patrick Smith posted an Instagram image of two cameras and his bare feet. Kevin Fujii’s comment of the image gave the style a name: “Feetographs.”
Photo by Patrick Smith
Now it is whole. We can proceed.
So why am I writing about Polaroids and the old days? I’m an old guy and everything I do was influenced by what has gone before.
I loved Polaroids. They were a moment in time that you could hold in your hand. Their accidental quality added to their charm.
Digital changed everything in photography and Polaroid was one of the casualties of the change.
I didn’t think about SX-70s much until one day I saw a set of images shot in Afganistan by the
Associated Press’s David Guttenfelder made using an iPhone and an app called “ShakeitPhoto”.
I was blown away by the images. They were equally as strong as the photos he made with is digital SLRs.
ShakeitPhoto mimics the look of the old Polaroid SX-70, right down to the sound of the photo being ejected and the image “developing” before your eyes.
So I downloaded the app and joined the multitudes taking photos with an iPhone. I had a new form of instant gratification.
The only similarity between Mr. Guttenfelder¹s work and mine is that we use the same gear. He is a much better photographer than I am.
Or ever was.
Or might ever be.
So, and all the writing about Polaroids and the old days; it was just so much background, probably unnecessary, for why I’m posting my iPhone photos here.
Back in the days of film, exposing film, especially color transparency, was an art in itself.
While some photographers, like Ansel Adams used them as a medium to make art, for others Polaroids were just a means to an end.
We would set up the lights, consult various light meters and then start shooting Polaroids.
Once we examined the instant (more or less) images and interpreted them, film was exposed.
With some experience and a little luck, the Polaroid was an accurate guide to the finished color transparency.
Polaroid was shot in various formats; 4×5, on the backs of 6×6 and 6×7 cameras or with the magic Marty Forscher/NPC back on your 35mm camera.
Another popular item was the Polaroid 180 and 195 cameras, which shot the pack film but had manual speeds and f stops.
This was popular with 35mm shooters, until the Forscher back arrived.
Polaroid test shot made with a Polaroid back on a Hasselblad at California Angels Spring Training in 1982. Photo by Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated.
Ray Foli of United Press International (left), Rod Carew of the California Angels and Andy Hayt of Sports Illustrated at Spring Training in Casa Grande, Arizona.Rod is checking out Andy’s Hasselblad. SX-70 by Tom Story
California Angels Fred Lynn, Don Baylor, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew as posed by Andy Hayt. SX-70 by Tom Story
Fred Lynn, Don Baylor, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew as photographed by Andy Hayt. The light source was one Norman 200B bounced out of an umbrella for fill and the sun as the main light.
Photo by Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated
After Andy photographed the four players, he was ready for a Reggie Jackson. We had taped up a red seamless background to a chain link fence and tested it with his Forscher back on a Nikon, probably an F2.
The back used a slab of fiber optic to transfer the image from the film plane and contact print it on the Polaroid pack film. A strip of nylon web was used as a marker so that the Polaroid could be pulled slightly out and allowing for another shot to be recorded on the same sheet of material. Photo by Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated.
This is the final shot that was used on the cover. Again the light source was a single Norman 200B bounced out of an umbrella as a fill light with the sun as the main light.
Photo by Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated.