Sunday, July 13, 2014

shake it like a polaroid picture




I've been at astronomy camp for the past week, out in the California desert where the sky gets pitch black at night and uncovers a blanket of stars -- unlike back home in D.C. where the only star I can see is the sun.

Today, instead of giving y'all the low down on all of the supernerdy things I'm doing out here, I'm going to tell you the three reasons why I have a newfound love for Polaroid photography.

1) Polaroids are small 

I used to carry my DSLR camera around my neck on all of my adventures, but then I realized that I was doing all of my adventuring through the lens of my camera instead of my own pupils.  Lugging around a DSLR was like putting a wall between myself and the world in more ways than one -- it instantly identified me as a tourist, it restricted the activities I could do, and caused heaps of anxiety.

"Crap, I can't go swimming, because a beach bum might steal my pricey DSLR/sand will scratch the lens/it will get stung by a jelly fish (?)."


"Shoot, I can't dance with you, street performer, because dancing with a DSLR around my neck is not only awkward, but there is an 80% chance I will smash your tooth out with it."

"Nooooo! Did I get guacamole on the lens?!"

Polaroids are small, hardy and can be tossed in a bag or bike basket or fanny pack with ease. They're also pretty resistant to guacamole.  


2) Polaroids are inefficient.

It's easy for me to get snap-happy with a memory card that holds 2000+ photos, or worse, my iPhone camera.  However, with my Polaroid, I can only take ten pictures per film pack.  It forces me to slow down and think "do I really need a picture holding a bell pepper that's shaped like a heart?" (yes) "do I really need an artsy picture of myself holding my morning coffee?" (no) "...but my nails look real nice today" (still no).  It weeds out the multitude of squirrel pictures, selfies and "artsy" cappuccino pictures that used to be mindlessly downloaded onto my computer never to be looked at again. Instead, I get 10 or so thoughtful pictures that sum up the day.

3) Polaroids don't always work

My camera's fussy- sometimes it decides it just doesn't want to print me a picture.  This happened yesterday when I went to a minor league baseball game in Sacramento - I had my camera poised to take the perfect shot of the fireworks at the end of the game... and then it decided not to print.  But then, I got to lie back and enjoy the fireworks fully without worrying about getting the perfect snapshot.  Even when the pictures do print they don't turn out crystal clear -- there are always strange little light squiggles over people faces, or little blurred halos in the center of the frame(check out my dismal food photography of a strawberry crepe).  How is this a plus?  It lets me relax and enjoy the moment, not for the picture-perfectness of it, but for the moment itself.

Polaroids are messy, fussy, and imperfect - much like the memories they capture.  Also much like the memories, they are unique and singular.  I can't print out a million copies of a Polaroid picture, but I can mail it off to a friend or tuck it away in a book for myself, giving that imperfect snapshot meaning and value that a digital picture can never have.  These pictures can't be photoshopped or airbrushed - but even when they've got red eye and light splotches, they can transport me back to the moment that I took them... and isn't that the whole point of a picture?

With love,
Erica

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20 comments:

  1. I love my DSLR, but I do find myself thinking of future holidays and wondering whether I'd be better off investing in a smaller point and shoot (Fujifilm with beautiful colours for example). I've been in classic American bars where I want to play pool but I'm worried about my expensive DSLR so I either have to keep it on me (it gets in the way) or hand it off to a friend (who doesn't want the responsibility either); or on the beach where sand is the enemy and, like you say, you can't just run into the sea and leave it on your towel. Maybe Polaroid is the way to go. Perhaps we really should all be getting back to living more in the moment. Your photos are super cute, too!

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    1. I'm glad you feel the same way! As much fun as DSLRs are, it's nice to have something small and trusty that I can just toss into my purse when I go out! Thank you so much Natasha! I love your blog by the way!

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  2. I loooove that you're using a polaroid! so smart and also I just love the retro vibe!

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  3. Oh my goodness, you went to an astronomy camp!! Pretty please can we have a super geeky post, I'd love to read all about it. I spend so many hours just staring up at the sky and love to watch it all twinkle.
    And yes, you've reminded me that it's more about enjoying the moment than getting worked up about your camera settings.
    Thank you
    x x x

    {The Lobster & Me}

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    1. Hahaha I will try and have a supernerd post coming your way soon! Thank you Ibbs :)

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  4. haha I run into the same exact problem with my dslr!
    where did you get your polaroid camera by the way?

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    1. I got my polaroid on eBay -- it's called an instax mini 8! Glad you can relate Lauren!

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  5. Polaroids are great! I received one for my birthday earlier this year but I don't use it so often, since I want to be careful with using up the film. But I do agree, sometimes we just take the unnecessary photos and don't really 'take in' the moment. Astronomy camp sounds like a lot of fun too!

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    1. Thank you! I know what you mean about the film... but that provides me with extra motivation to be super careful !

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  6. Beautiful... just beautiful! I have to admit the third-seventh paragraphs pretty much sum up my travels. I've thought about getting a Polaroid and now that I've read this I think I want to! What kind do you have?

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    1. Thank you so much Leigha! I have an Instax Mini 8!

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  7. I have always wanted a Polaroid camera but never got round to actually buying one! Great post and so glad I found your blog...your recipes look AMAZING!!!!

    www.lauraevelynbee.co.uk

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  8. I totally just went on vacation and took and absurd amount of pictures a day. Maybe I need to get a Polaroid so I can tone it down a bit! The whole look of Polaroids has always fascinated me. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. They're little square memories that you'll have forever! xx

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    1. Thank you so much Katherine, that's how I like to think of them! I can't wait to see all of your vacation pictures though! :)

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  9. You made a good point; dslr limits our actions and we're always wary of our environment. But when I'm using a digital camera, I can move freely. I've been thinking of polaroids, I think I'll get one. This is a very nice post, and nice shots. :)

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    1. Exactly! They are two totally opposite photography experiences! Digital cameras give us the freedom to shoot arbitrarily, and then weed the results down to a few great photos. I think there is something inspiring about the thought behind a polaroid though! Thank you Sofia!

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  10. That astronomy camp sounds so lovely...magical! Twinkling stars and night time = isolated heaven. Living the moment is all and well, but I always think back to another blogger who once wrote about how she feels like "If I don't blog about it, it didn't happen" - so many of us feel guilty of doing this, too! Where do we draw the line?

    Tash x

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    1. Thank you Tashiana! It's super nerdy, but I'm having a great time! I'd love to read that post if you can find it! :)

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