Analog: Party Polaroids at Brooklyn Bowl

January 22nd, 2011
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Yesterday afternoon, I got a last minute request to shoot Roots DJ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s 40th Birthday party at Brooklyn Bowl. Even now, I’m desperately trying to play it cool as though this is the sort of thing that happens to me all the time, but I admit that I was pretty ecstatic at the opportunity. As a long time fan of The Roots in general, Questlove in particular and Brooklyn Bowl as a venue, I have to say the whole experience was gratifying.
Photographically, the most interesting part of the night was that the request specified that they wanted Polaroids (or at least “Polaroids,” most instant film cameras are Fujis). I used a Fuji Instax 270,I believe. It was the ‘wide’ version, which shoots the traditional size prints as opposed to the more common ‘mini’ models that print narrow, business card-sized photos.
I’ve never played with Polaroids in the past and, though generally understanding the appeal of instant analog prints, always worried that it would just lead to obsession and a million individual prints would accumulate, unscanned because I hate scanning and thus not particularly useful in the digital world. All of that is pretty accurate and I’m resisting the urge to blow my payment for the gig on one of these cameras for myself and a ton of film.
Shooting with it was interesting. The learning curve was fairly shallow, it is made to be very simple to use after all. My biggest problem is that the film packs only hold 10 exposures at a time. Shooting an event and having to stop every 10 shots can be cumbersome. The other issue is that the prints take longer to ‘develop’ that I ever expected. It takes nearly 5 minutes for an image to completely materialize. That can be a lot of time to lose the spontaneity of a moment. Even so, the photos I saw – I turned in the whole batch at the end of the night – were inspiring. I might have to risk obsession and add another toy to my collection one of these days.

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