352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Polaroid Experiment

As you may have seen within both my original and revised proposal (please see the blog posts entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Original Proposal” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Revised Proposal”), from the beginning of my FMP module, I considered the documentation of my projects semi-collaborative methodology through the use of Polaroid’s that depicted the experience (as well as using collected materials). When I shared this information with guest lecturer Emma Critchley, she then suggested that I should research into the work of Andrey A. Tarkovsky and his project “Instant Light Tarkovsky Polaroid’s”.

After researching into Andrey A. Tarkovsky’s “Instant Light Tarkovsky Polaroid’s” work (please see “352MC professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”), the main piece of inspiration that I gained from it was his use of polaroid’s that suggested the documentation of storyboard images throughout the pre-production of some of his films, which therefore related to my FMP because, as previously suggested, I am using polaroid’s to document the methodology (or “pre-production”) behind my project to see if it enhances the concept and reconnecting aspects of the project. As also suggested within my research, this project also provided me with inspiration in terms of the aesthetics of polaroid images and suggested that, although polaroid’s are associated with the snapshot aesthetic, they can also capture carefully considered images that are aesthetically beautiful.

For this experiment with my Polaroid images, that I had collected throughout the five weekend trips up to the Lake District, I therefore decided to conduct two slightly different experiments, including the mere use of the Polaroid that I had captured, as well as the use of text (placed on the white frame of the Polaroid) to describe what can be seen in the Polaroid image. Below you will therefore be able to find notes regarding the two “Polaroid” experiments (including the equipment and methodology that I used), followed by the photographs from the experiment and a reflection regarding the use of the Polaroid’s within my FMP:



Equipment (for both of the experiments):

  • Kenneth Cole Reaction Instant 600 Polaroid Camera
  • PX680 Impossible Project 600 Colour Polaroid Film



Methodology (for both of the experiments):

For the methodology of these two, slightly altered “Polaroid” experiments, I had to consider a number of different things including the creation of my images and the use of text. This section therefore simply bullet-points some of the factors I considered and the general technique I underwent during the experiment:

  • As briefly mentioned above, and as you will see from the images below, I only took 9 different Polaroid’s that were captured during each of my trips up to the Lake District (the reasoning’s behind this have been included in more detail below)
  • As stated above, because I was simply attempting to document the semi-collaborative methodology behind the project, I chose the use of a Polaroid to photograph “behind the scenes” aspects of the Lake District trips (including the equipment that I used, images of us during the photo shoots, etc.)
    • However, as I am sure you have already read within some of my “Trip” blog posts, after a couple of trips up to the Lake District, I felt that I was unable to successfully capture the original semi-collaborative methodology behind the project, as my original plan of completing it with my Dad had unfortunately changed (meaning that most of the weekend trips I conducted was with my Mum)
      • This therefore meant that the Polaroid’s I was capturing didn’t enhance the semi-collaborative aspect of the project, so I therefore adapted my original plan to focus the Polaroid images on the general “behind the scenes” methodologies where the individuals associated with the creation of the project cannot easily be identified
    • As I soon found out in the first couple of trips up to the Lake District, I was also unable to take Polaroid’s during the shoots, as it was normally far too wet and windy, in the specific locations, to successfully capture them without damaging created Polaroid
      • This is why, as you will see below, all of my Polaroid images mainly depict the hotels/hostels/B&B’s where we stayed during the trips (along with a couple of “window” shots and images of drying equipment), because, although this doesn’t depict all of the “behind the scenes” aspects, it still provides visual information surrounding the methodology and longevity of the creation of the project
    • Creating these Polaroid’s in this particular way (documenting the methodology behind the project), obviously meant that I also veered away from my chosen technique of photographing the landscape using a “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic, as I was experimenting with the documentation of “behind the scenes” aspects
  • As for digitally adding the text to the Polaroid’s (discussed in more detail below), although I didn’t really describe my reasoning’s behind this particular experiment above, I thought that the use of text could enhance the methodology behind the project because, as suggested in my research, accompanying text often provides the viewer with a greater contextualized understanding
    • Deciding to experiment with this particular idea, I then carefully considered the type of text that I used, and eventually went for a hand-written, simple and descriptive accompanying passage
      • This is because, the hand-written aspect obviously enhances the personal aspect of the project through referencing that of the captions included within family albums or scrapbooks, and the simple and descriptive style of text are used to document and symbolize the logistics and methodology behind the project
  •  Finally, with regards to the editing of these Polaroid images, I decided to scan them in before simply cropping and straightening them in Photoshop (as I didn’t want to affect the natural colouration of the Polaroid’s through the editing of levels, exposure, and colour, for example)
    • As for the Polaroid’s that include accompanying text, as briefly mentioned above, I decided to digitally manipulate this particular experiment as I didn’t want to write straight on the Polaroid in case I didn’t like it
      • For this particular experiment, I therefore decided to write the captions on a piece of paper before scanning them in and using a number of tools in Photoshop to merge it with the scanned Polaroid image (including cropping, copying and pasting, the free transform tool, and the background eraser tool)
      • This is why, as you will see from the images included below, some of the text appears more central than others because, when I was writing the caption onto the piece of paper, I misjudged the size of the area that I was able to write on
      • However, with all of this being said, when looking back at both of the “Polaroid” experiments (no text and with text), if I prefer the Polaroid’s with the text, I will obviously spend time actually writing on the Polaroid’s



Experiment Photos:

Polaroid’s (without text):

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Polaroid’s (with text):

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After-Thoughts and Reflection (for both of the experiments):

When looking at the Polaroid’s that I have created throughout the undertaking of these particular experiments, comparing them back to Andrey A. Tarkovsky’s Polaroid’s, I personally feel that they are not as successful as his in terms of the aesthetic qualities that they hold. However, with this being said, I think that they have successfully captured the (altered) methodology behind my project because, as suggested above, they still provide visual information surrounding the longevity of approach I took throughout the project.

With regards to the comparison between the two Polaroid experiments I have conducted, looking back at the digital images I created, I personally prefer the Polaroid’s that include the hand-written descriptive text. This is because, as mentioned above in the “Methodology” section, this accompanying text provides the viewer with a greater contextualized understanding by enhancing the personal aspect of the project whilst also documenting and symbolizing the projects logistics and methodology. (As suggested above, after discussing this particular experiment with my lecturers, I therefore plan on taking the time to write on the Polaroid artifacts that I have).

Taking all of this into account, however, I personally do not feel that these Polaroid images are strong enough to stand by themselves as a photographic piece, but as briefly mentioned in both my original and revised proposal, I think that the use of them as an accompanying aspect within my final piece will add to the success of my project through enhancing the projects contextualization and thus the viewers understanding. I will therefore spend time in the future, when I am considering the outputs for my final piece, to experiment with the incorporation of these specific Polaroid’s.