May 11, 2021

The Polaroid Diaries: Falling in love with instant

The Polaroid Diaries: Falling in love with instant


Since seeing the Linda McCartney exhibition in Glasgow this time last year, honestly- I don’t think I’ve drawn breath to stop talking about it.

If it wasn’t obvious from the amount of gift shop merch I cart around like a walking Linda ‘Golf Sale’ promo agent (tote- tick! T-shirt- tick! Book- Tick) it’s normally the fact I bring it up if anything photography related ever comes up (‘Oh! You like Instagram? WELL HAVE YOU SEEN…)- it’s probably a bit much. I’ll leave my Wings obsession to one side for now.

Anyway- long story short, it’s incredible. It was one of those exhibitions that reframes, re-inspires and jigs some kind of creative warmth into you. She was so, so brilliantly talented- both in her music photography (which made me fall fast) but also her documentary and candid family photos- the real, intimate moments of her family growing, going away and experiencing life together. The photos that nowadays perhaps get bypassed for a quick shot ~for the gram~ or a squashed together group shot- but the raw, silly, side splitting moments that make a moment worth capturing in the first place. No time for a re-take, and not enough film to shoot fifty and hope there’s one either.

When I studied photography, one thing we used to have to do as part of our critical research was go to exhibitions, galleries- and really take stock (stock being leaflets to show we’d been there, of course- SEE! I DID GO!). It’s not something I’d done in so long, falling into a trap of finding all my inspiration online, on Pinterest and saving things on Instagram. But it’s amazing what stepping away from the small, small screen can do. So much so that since then I’ve fallen back in love with analog photography, the bloody expensive habit of shooting on Instant film and really considering a moment when taking it. Seeing the Polaroid Diaries in real life made taking instant photos look so easy- and it is, to a point. But there’s so much to be said for lighting, and knowing that you can’t waste what’s now about £2 a photo (things were probably a little more affordable then, especially for a McCartney)!


So, after investing in the iconic SX-70 (which folds down so you can pop it in a pocket, and is arguably the coolest camera in the world), it’s safe to say I’m slowly learning the ropes. It’s not like shooting on a modern Polaroid or Fuji Instax. The effect of light is so impactful and the film picks up everything (and I mean everything)- which makes it magical in a way, but so delicate in another. I also dug out my Polaroid One 600 from the loft, which is a lot easier to get back used to (it has a little film shield too which you can buy which makes the world of difference when it comes to processing)- and was a camera I used to take everywhere when I was 16 (I’d stand at the front of gigs with it, which probably looked painfully pretentious but actually resulted in some special shots, so I’ll forgive myself there). It’s been such a joy rediscovering something I’d completely forgotten how much I loved, and although I’ve got a lot more playing around to do- I know that’s truly the fun of it. Sometimes it’s about dusting off little pockets of yourself, and things you love that you’d forgotten about- and stripping it back to why you fell in love with it in the first place- soppy but true.

If you did want to see Retrospective (or more so, are able to)- it’s currently in Liverpool. I’m so hoping to go up again before it closes, but if you are local I cannot recommend it enough!


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