[“S]pontaneous by nature and distinct in palette, the Polaroid medium has arguably had the single largest influence on my career and to be able to capture that impassioned relationship in this book has been a lifelong dream.” After chronicling his career through 25 years worth of Polaroid snaps, photographer Diego Uchitel tells us why the loss of Polaroid is a heavy blow.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT POLAROID PHOTOGRAPHY THAT STANDS OUT TO YOU?
I love the amazing tonality of Polaroids and complete lack of pretense.
CAN YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST POLAROID PICTURE YOU TOOK?
Sadly no but I can remember my first camera. It was the Polaroid Backholder – the holder for the 4×5 camera.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER?
My father is a doctor and I made a very short lived attempt to follow in his footsteps, but untimately knew I wanted to work in a creative field with the ability to travel the world. Photography fit that bill perfectly!
YOU STUDIED FILM BEFORE SWITCHING TO PHOTOGRAPHY – WHY DID FILM NOT SUIT YOU?
I did study film in LA but quickly realized I was too much of a control freak and wanted to work with fewer people in order to be able to have more control over every aspect. Filming is not a solo sport.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK, POLAROIDS. WHEN DID YOU START PUTTING IT TOGETHER?
I actually began pulling images for the book back in November of 2011, but it was always a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” in the back of my mind once the Polaroid Wall that inspired the book began to really took shape.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHICH PHOTOGRAPHS MADE IT INTO THE BOOK?
I worked with my wife April and Klitos Teklos the Creative Director that I hired to art direct the layout and help sort through thousands of polaroids to make the final selections. It was hard for me to decipher exactly what the book should be composed of as I was just too close to the images. It was kind of like picking your favorite child. If I had bad memories from a shoot that image was tainted to me so fresh and impartial eyes were needed. Funny, but I see some of the images in the book that I would never have chosen yet surprisingly I see those photos completely differently now.
IS THERE ONE IMAGE THAT MEANS THE MOST TO YOU?
I do not really have a favorite image but I really love the David Bowie shot. It was David’s idea to put on the red lipstick at the last moment which greatly enhanced what otherwise could have been a basic band shoot. I also love the Horse. When it was delivered to my studio for the story that we were doing I loved how it looked, still wrapped in the moving blankets. I spontaneously shot it before they fully unwrapped the prop and it has become one of the most requested images for prints.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE DIANE VON FURSTENBERG TO WRITE THE FOREWORD?
April worked with Diane for nine years and I was fortunate to shoot Diane many times for different publications over those years. She is incredibly inspiring and had a significant impact on our lives. She was incredibly gracious when I reached out to her and I am thrilled my book resides has joined her amazing library.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE END OF POLAROID PHOTOGRAPHS MEANS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
I think people are missing out on the thrill of anticipation that Polaroids forced on its shooters. Those seemingly forever minutes waiting for the image to develop and the crazy effects that can happen in that process are lost. The spontaneity of Polaroids – not being able to retouch them – made them so pure. I miss that aspect in the digital age where everything is completely manipulated and retouched, and the integrity of the image disappears pretty fast.
DO YOU THINK THAT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHY CHEAPEN THE ART FORM SOMEWHAT – WITH IPHONES AND INSTAGRAM EVERYONE THINKS THEY CAN TAKE A GOOD PICTURE?
I would not say it cheapens the art form but it certainly democratises it! I do love Instagram (FOLLOW ME!), how it is so accessible and makes anything look cool and anyone look thoughtful and artistic. The sharing aspect is great and I enjoy seeing what others do with the format – what images inspire them – where they are in the world. Great to keep tabs on your friends and the competition!