Archive for the ‘Photo Essay’ Category

We’re All Photographers Now

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

A New York Times story looks at the self-portrait phenomenon, spurred on by technology and now showcased at the Musée de l’Elysée’s exhibit, We Are All Photographers Now: The Rapid Mutation of Amateur Photography in the Digital Age. Among the artists featured is Noah Kalina, whose video “everyday” is the sum total of the 2,356 self-portraits he took from January 11, 2000 to July 31, 2006. “Noah’s video represents a phenomenal amplification not just in what he produced and how he did it, but how many people the piece touched in such a short period of time,” William A. Ewing, the director of the museum, tells the Times. “There is nothing comparable in the history of photography.” More than 5 million people have watched it on YouTube–if you’re not among them, click below. It’s amazing.

Geek Shirts: a SXSWi Photo Essay

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

SMITH Magazine’s first annual SXSWi Geek T-Stream, a mostly cotton wonder of personal expression. Thanks everyone—you look marvelous.

Watch as a slideshow and download on our Flickr stream. All photos are posted under a Creative Commons license.

Click on photos to enlarge; mouseover for previous and next.

Nerdy girl gone wild P1010049.JPG P1010052.JPG Dogster's Ted Rheingold & Molly Bloom's Molly Ditmore P1010055.JPG
P1010056.JPG P1010110.JPG He draws She draws P1010136.JPG
P1010134.JPG P1010133.JPG P1010132.JPG P1010131.JPG P1010130.JPG
P1010128.JPG P1010123.JPG I'm blogging this P1010119.JPG P1010118.JPG
P1010117.JPG P1010114.JPG P1010109.JPG P1010106.JPG P1010105.JPG
P1010104.JPG P1010103.JPG P1010102.JPG P1010101.JPG SMITH's Smith
No, he doesn't want to... P1010098.JPG Guaranteed P1010093.JPG Barney hata
P1010091.JPG P1010087.JPG P1010086.JPG P1010084.JPG Laughing Squid's Scott Beale
P1010073.JPG Nice font P1010064.JPG P1010062.JPG P1010061.JPG
Twitter bug P1010059.JPG P1010058.JPG P1010057.JPG RUWT
Kevin Smokler at the FrayCafe

“I Could Kill For a Hug Some Days. And Would Die For a Kiss”: The Self Portraits of Meredith Farmer

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

* Slideshow includes 4:30 min. interview with Meredith Farmer (edited for time)
Take one self-portrait each day for a year. That’s the simple conceit behind Flickr’s 365 Days Project. More than 3,000 people have taken the self-portrait challenge, including Meredith Farmer, 26-year-old photographer who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, where by day she’s an inventory specialist for the downtown REI. Since joining the Flickr group, Farmer says she spends most of her daily photo time working on that one shot. “My portraits usually rely very heavily on how I am feeling that day,” she says. “It’s really all-consuming.”The thirty shots in this photo essay are her favorite self-portraits, some from the 365 pool, some not. “I shoot many images in my attempt to get the ‘right’ photo of the day, and often I end up liking an outtake or 365 reject better than the photo that I chose for the day. Sometimes the photos you don’t like as much as first grow on you.”What makes a good image to you?
Emotion is the main subject of most of my images. Though my aim is to produce a technically correct and aesthetically pleasing photograph, my ultimate goal is always to evoke feeling, whether it is sorrow, happiness, anger, love, or desire. I use my photos as catharsis–all are produced in direct response to some internal voice that needs to be heard. So, if a photograph assists me in understanding and overcoming problems, I define that image as good.

Who first inspired you to take pictures?
I can’t really say that I have a specific individual who inspired me. I only began taking photos in September 2006. Well, actually, I was using my crappy point-and-shoot film camera to take some outdoor pictures during the summer of ’06 (you can see them at the beginning of my Flickr stream) but I really got into it when my dad came to visit at the end of August. He saw some of my photos and bought me the most fantastic gift that I have ever received: my Canon S3-IS. Though some may regard it as another “crappy point-and-shoot,” I love it.

The self-portraits began when I joined the 365 days pool. But, if there’s anyone who inspired me, it was my father for encouraging my hobby and helping me believe that I could be good at something creative.

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
Evocation. Out of all of the aspects (lighting, composition, setting, etc.) the feelings behind the image are the most important. This more emotional approach is probably a result of my lack of technical training and studio. Without all worry regarding the actual “correctness” of the photo, I can shoot from a more intuitive place.

What do you consider off-limits?
I’d say images without feelings, then, would be a place I will not go. For example: in 365 days, we have to take one self-portrait per day for one year. Some members of the pool simply take the same “camera at arm’s length” photo day in and day out. I could not and will not do that. To me, the more socially or politically incorrect images often evoke the most feeling. So my definition of off-limits will probably differ widely from most.

What’s the fish that got away–the photo you saw but didn’t have a camera for?
I have not been photographing for too long, and I always have my camera with me. Of course, there’s always the gorgeous sunrise that got away. I remember one morning I was riding my bicycle across the bridge on the way to work, and there was the most amazing mist over the Willamette River. I almost stopped, but was so worried about being late that I told myself that surely it would be foggy another morning. I still regret not stopping.

More frequently, however, I am limited by the capabilities of my camera. Some images that I dream up will never come to fruition because they are more conceptual and fluid, and cannot be captured in one still frame.

From whom, what, or where do you derive inspiration?
Many of my captions contain lyrics to songs, as well. In a perfect world, each one of my photos would be viewed with the accompanying lyrics. Elliott Smith is a huge inspiration. Well, his music, at least. His songs are so rich and emotional—I empathize with many of his feelings of worthlessness, depression, and isolation and often keep his lyrics in mind when composing my images.

My depression is also another “inspiration,” if you can call it that. I can easily pinpoint the negative emotions and find it extremely therapeutic to express them through my photos. I hope that others find solace in the fact that they are not alone in their pain, and that it is not to be taken lightly or pushed under the rug.

What’s the picture you’d most like to take?
There are so many. Most days I think of three or four photos that never come to fruition. I love clone shots. Not getting too specific here, but I’d love to get even more conceptual with my images—surrealism is a subject that I find both daunting and fascinating.

Where are you happiest taking photographs?
My home. There I am not worried about strangers wondering what I am doing. I am not self-conscious. I can focus entirely on the subject at hand, which is usually myself. One of my goals is to become more comfortable taking public photos—for now I prefer to have an escort. When I’m with someone else, I feel almost validated, you know? But I’m working on it.

Home Brewed: The Photography of Joe Fornabaio

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Go to the photos

Joe Fornabaio now lives in Manhattan’s East Village, but he keeps his camera close to home—which is wherever his extended family can be found. Christmas, Halloween, first communion, birthday parties—if there’s family, cake and a “bajillion course Italian meal” to be had in the Fornabaio family, you can bet your seven fishes that Joe and his camera will be there, too, both as participant and documentarian. “On any occasion I’m there in celebration with them, but they’ve become comfortable with my camera by my side so I get to shoot without drawing a glance,” he says. He takes photographs both for love and for a living using his Mamiya RZ 67. The 37-year-old photographer shares a few of his very personal pics with SMITH, and his thoughts on what makes him click.

What makes a good image to you?
I like different images for different reasons. Sometimes I like an image for its visual strength, sometimes for its content. The cream of the crop is when you’ve got both in one photo.

Who first inspired you to take pictures?
My high school art teacher, he didn’t inspire me so much as bring photography to my attention. I’m forever grateful to him for seeing the boredom I had in his class.

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
I need to like it whether it’s content or just visual strength. If I don’t like it I’m not going to look at it again.

What do you consider off-limits?
For me, I can’t shoot the depressing side of life when people are at their most difficult time, so I admire photojournalists who do by covering wars and human interest pieces that focus on the sadder parts of life that we need to be aware of.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen through the viewfinder?
Let me put it this way: nothing that’s kept me from shooting, but I am eagerly awaiting that moment when someone will have to call an ambulance because I won’t be able to breathe from laughing so hard.

What’s the fish that got away—the photo you saw but didn’t have a camera for?
I see ’em everyday but I don’t sweat it. I can’t capture every moment of my waking life so I’ve learned to appreciate every moment regardless whether I’ve captured it or not. I’ve learned to not beat myself over the one that ‘got away’ because there are way too many moments in life that I find interesting. So I always carry at least one of my point-and-shoot Yashica T4’s with me so I at least have something on film.

From whom, what, or where do you derive inspiration?
Everything. People, places, things. Cliché? I don’t care, it’s the truth, and there’s too many to list.

What’s the picture you’d most like to take?
Actually, this is sort of the ‘one that got away,’ a self-portrait with my point-and-shoot camera at arms length atop the Twin Towers overlooking New York City in the background.

If anyone could take a picture of you, who would it be?
Lorenzo Giustini, my four-year-old nephew. What a great name, Lorenzo Giustini, sounds like some great pioneer/turn of the century photographer. He’d probably shoot it with his parents’ point-and-shoot digital camera. Why? Because he has no preconceived notions of what a photo should be, so he would shoot endlessly the boundless curiosity he has with a camera that instantly gratifies him. No rules, no ego, pure enthusiasm.

Where are you happiest taking photographs?
Wherever I’m standing. As long as there’s a breath in my body and I’m fortunate enough to have the strength in my arms to lift a camera and the eyes to look through a lens then I’m happy. I consider myself very fortunate to love what I do for a living, which also enables me to keep doing my personal work. So it’s a double whammy: I love to shoot and get paid for it!

Below are some of Joe Fornabaio’s favorite family photos.
Click on an image to enlarge.

Easter at my mother’s house. My cousin Ann Marie taking a picture of some of us in the back patio. The weather was gorgeous that weekend so we set up a long table outside in the backyard patio to accommodate about 12 of us.

Easter at my mother’s house. Left to right: my cousin Francesca’s husband, Michael, and my brother Donato sneaking a peek at some dessert. My brother is pulling the box open.

Cousin Ralph getting a haircut by Anthony of Artistic Image on Staten Island. This is part of another project I’ve begun on barbershops.

Christmas at my mother’s house. Left to right: My cousin Nancy’s son Sal sitting on the couch bored out of his skull while she has a conversation with my brother Anthony’s girlfriend, Antonia.

Easter at my mother’s house. My cousin Ralph fixing bicycle for his daughter Diana.

Easter at my mother’s house. Left to right: My cousin Francesca’s son Michael, my cousin Tommy’s son Giovanni eating, and my cousin Nancy’s son Joseph, with my cousin Filomena in background.

My Aunt Ida’s sixtieth birthday. Left to right in front at table: Diana, Victoria, Aunt Ida, Sophia, Aunt Maria. In the background: Aunt Antoinette, cousin Tina and mom all looking on.

Easter at my mother’s house. Back of my brother Anthony’s head as he talks to his girlfriend Antonia.

My cousin Joe’s daughter Antonia’s christening at the Knights of Columbus on Staten Island. The man’s head is my Uncle John.

Sam (my cousin Filomena’s son) wrapped up in toilet paper at my cousin Santo’s son Nicholas’ first birthday. We have lots of kids at family gatherings now, so they hired this DJ who specializes in entertaining kids; one of the things he had them do was wrap each other up in toilet paper.

Barely skipping a beat to eat, my brother Anthony eating as my Aunt Ida is putting a lobster bib around him with a tray of baked clams and lobsters in the foreground. In an Italian household like mine, Christmas Eve dinner is all fish.

Food coma sets in on my brother Anthony sleeping next to a doll after a Thanksgiving meal at my Aunt Antoinette’s house. Don’t ask me how the doll wound up there.

At my cousin Tommy’s son Giovanni’s first communion party. Left to right: Filomena laughing as she looks on, John with his Blackberry and his wife (my cousin) Francesca both looking puzzled at an email he’s received.

Joe (my cousin Nancy’s son) at his Aunt Filomena’s wedding looking not too excited about the stiff suit.

Easter at my mother’s house. Mom showing cake to my cousins. Left to right: Ann Marie, Christine and my brother Anthony’s girlfriend, Antonia.

Left to right: My cousin Francesca’s kids Victoria and Michael. I was doing some formal pics of the family and the kids were dying to put on their Halloween costumes. We finally obliged, and I just let them go wild. Then it happened. She was moving the chair when my cousin John and I noticed her stockings were around her knees. (We hadn’t seen it earlier because her skirt hid it.) That’s when Michael leaned in to see what we were laughing at.

Left to right: Cousin Joann’s husband, Joe; Uncle John; and Uncle Sal’s brother-in-law Enzo sitting on wall at cousin Santo’s engagement party at his parents Zia Dolores and Uncle Sal’s house in Brooklyn.

More of Joe Fornabaio’s work can be found on his site

A Beautiful Pregnant Woman

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

shroud_swimmer3802.jpgAccidental hobby, budding fetish or personal media art piece? Call my pregnant women series what you want, but there’s no denying the beauty in the shots and the stories of the women here. I was lucky enough to see my friend Lara Swimmer, a Seattle-based photographer who was on the East Coast for a gig shooting the Philadelphia Naval Yards, during her eighth month. A few weeks later, she sent me these photos taken by her friend the artist Iole Alessandrini.

The shots of Swimmer here are part of a larger series called Shroud: Swimmer, and a subset of Alessandrini’s ongoing Shroud project. To model for these photos, Swimmer and her belly moved in and out of Alessandrini’s laser plane during time-exposed photos at the Western Bridge gallery space in Seattle. What you see is what the artist got: no editing tools were used to create these astounding pictures.

“In general, we perceive the physical world in a material way,” Alessandrini says via email. “In contrast, I invite people to physically immerse their bodies in a space made with and shaped by lasers. Through the creative manipulation of light, I create unique aesthetic phenomena, rather than mere illusions, that show, in Whitman’s words, how “much unseen is also here.” By playing with visual perception and direct participation, people see their material body as light itself.”shroud_swimmer3816.jpg

On November 30, 16 days after the photo shoot, Swimmer gave birth to Avery Dorian Zimmer.

Bonus baby! SMITH contributing editor and Treehuggable Meaghan O’Neill has given birth to nearly nine sweet pounds of Nicholas O’Neill Edenbach.

Flickr Faves: Laura Kicey’s Self-Portraits

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Kicey.jpgEach week, SMITH photo editor Audrie Lawrence scours the land of Flickr and finds someone doing highly personal, absolutely amazing photography that you, busy reader, probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon yourself.

This week’s treasure is Laura Kicey, a 29-year-old photographer and graphic designer living outside Philadelphia. Kicey says she was a shutterbug in college, falling in love with the black-and-white photography she took up as she worked toward her BFA in communication design. After graduation, she no longer had free access to a darkroom. “I promptly stopped taking photographs and then lost my camera,” she recalls. Luckily, in 2003 Santa brought Kicey an Olympus point-and-shoot, and a year later she discovered Flickr. “From then on, I couldn’t stop taking photos,” she says. “I don’t think anything will be stopping me anytime soon.”

When we found Kicey’s phenomenal self-portrait stream—192 photos of the photographer telling 192 stories about her life—we couldn’t stop looking. As a part of our Flickr Faves series, SMITH asked her about her life, her art, and her own mind-blowing Flickr faves.

Check out Kicey’s photoset, Kicey on Kicey: I Look Nothing Like Me.

What first attracted you to photography, and what motivated to do this self-portrait project?
I wouldn’t characterize self-portraiture as my primary interest, but I am as comfortable being in front of the camera as I am behind it. I use myself as a model because I am always here, I will always agree to do outrageous things, and I’ll work on a shot until I get it right. My self-portraits help me say things I otherwise cannot, recording my highest highs and lowest lows, so they are very much like a journal to me. For me, photography is about recording the sensory experience—reminders—and a way to transport the viewer to this same place or feeling.

Where do you get your ideas?
The sources for inspiration are varied. It might be a reaction to some event in my life (like the frenzy before my first show, dealing with heartbreak, a tribute to a friend (a photo gift for a tattooed friend’s birthday), stumbling upon an unlikely prop or piece of clothing (such as this flowery shower cap).

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
I think nothing conveys mood quite like color. I love throwing off white balance and shifting color temperatures to better convey the feelings I have attached to an idea, place, or thing.

Our Q&A with Laura Kicey continues here. (more…)

Flickr Faves: Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

303352269_b106007fff.jpgI love getting lost in the dreamy, streamy world of Flickr (many of the images that you see on SMITH are from Flickr photos marked as Creative Commons, which means the creators have allowed the public to showcase or use them, with certain restrictions depending on the creator’s wishes). Flickr’s a great way to get lost for hours, but few of us can spare the time … even though we love the art and randomness of the click click click.

That’s one of the many reasons that once a week SMITH photo editor Audrie Lawrence will be creating a stream of Flickr photos she’s marked as a “fave,” often around a theme. Although we at SMITH are no strangers to outsmarting ourselves, this week we’re playing it straight—and talking turkey. “Nothing is more essential to thanksgiving than the food,” Lawrence says. “So this week I’ve put together a set of my top 10 food pictures for Thanksgiving. Some are traditional, some are not. All are yummy.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

Still Life With Craigslist

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Still Life With Craigslist

Photographs by Steve Giralt

Photography, one might argue, is the art of noticing and capturing what’s hidden, or fleeting, or merely often ignored. At least in part, it’s about seeing what other people don’t.

Take Craigslist. Most people would look at the site and see nothing but a sea of classified ads and a collection of discussion forums. But Steve Giralt saw something more there: a community of real people, all of them with stories. Indeed, the New York City-based photographer has relied on Craigslist in almost every aspect of his work—to find models and exhibition spaces, to promote his shows, and, as he puts it, to generally “entertain myself.”

Giralt’s idea was a simple one. Not long ago, he posted an ad on Craigslist seeking people who wished to have their portraits taken. He laid down one rule: The prospective model had to have seen the ad on Craigslist (or else needed to be brought to the studio by someone who had). “I didn’t turn anyone away,” says the 28-year-old Giralt, who hails from Miami and was recently named one of Photo District News magazine’s 30 emerging photographers to watch. “People could come dressed as they wished; my job was to try to capture their personality on film.”

Among those who answered the ad were college roommates, teachers, expectant couples, students, musicians, graphic designers, dancers, Cher impersonators, actors, and professional models. “Each and every person arrived with a story to tell, often one about Craigslist,” says Giralt. “One woman told me a tale about how she found her job, apartment, boyfriend, and furniture on the site.” In exchange for allowing Giralt to take the photographs, each person receives a free print of his or her choice.

“It’s amazing, really,” Giralt marvels. “I post an ad and then usually start receiving responses within 30 minutes. Most times, I have to take down the ad within 24 hours because I have more responses than I can handle. I’m intrigued by how this one corner of the Web has become such a huge part of so many different lives. Craigslist is a world unto itself, and I love photographing it.”

Jessica Jean Turner
Turner says she has “done pretty much everything on Craigslist.” She’s found jobs, apartments, her TV, friends, and “a few weirdos.” When Turner met Giralt earlier this year, she was living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and “pretty confused on what I wanted to do in New York.” While she says she’s still uncertain about her future, experience in Giralt’s studio has made her less nervous about pursuing a career in face modeling. “I am having a marvelous time in the on the journey to figuring it out,” she says. “And Craigslist has just been absolutely terrific for me! I just don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have that and MySpace.”

Jacob J. King
A 20-year-old student at Pace University, King works at the Banana Republic in the World Financial Center and is pursuing modeling jobs on the side. He uses Craigslist to find paid modeling work and photo shoots that will help him build up his portfolio.

Carmen Shamwell
The oddest thing she’s found through Craiglist? A part-time gig scooping gelato at a maternity store in the summer of 2004. “Don’t ask,” says the 25-year-old Bronx resident. Shamwell wanted to have a nice photo to give to her boyfriend. “And she was very proud of her stomach,” says Giralt, “so she showed it to me for a few frames.”

A week after the shoot, she sent Giralt this email:
Please let me know if you ever need a muse, seriously. It is rare that I take a good picture, and you made me look so pretty. I’ve always wanted to get into modeling, but I just don’t have enough material to go on…with the pictures you just did, though, I am off to a good start! By just posting that ad on CL and asking people for your project, you don’t know how much you’ve done for me.

Jay Lafond and Stacey Alexander
Lafond and Alexander met on Craigslist, and they decided their first face-to-face meeting would be at Giralt’s studio, where they’d have their picture taken. “They were fun, and weren’t afraid to have fun in front of the camera,” says Giralt. “I’m waiting to hear if anything has happened with them since they met.”

Richard Wilson
Wilson is a 56-year-old photographer who began his career shooting babies in department stores, and is now pursuing his lifelong dream of acting in and directing films. “Ritchie was an interesting guy,” says Giralt. “He looks on Craigslist for opportunities to be photographed.”

Racheline Maltese
Maltese is an actor, writer, and media analyst living in Spanish Harlem with one roomie and two cats. She has used Craigslist for auditions; freelance writing jobs; telling people wondering if X, Y, or Z is an acting/modeling scam that it usually is; finding an apartment; buying and selling tickets to concerts and film festivals; trying (and failing) to find lodging in Sydney. She says she sends Giralt’s photos of her to casting agencies to show the range of both her look and her wardrobe. “Everyone says it makes her look like the boy Oscar Wilde wanted to be,” Giralt says, “which charms her to no end.”

Kim Domke
Domke wrote this note to Giralt after seeing the ad: “I’m interested in learning more about/participating in your project. I’m a 23 yr old female, 5′7″, blonde, who used to work in management consulting and recently has delved into sales, promotional ‘modeling’, and conventions. I’ve always been comfortable in front of the camera, but rarely worked w/pros. I’m also a dancer and used to direct a jazz&hiphop company.”

Christine Rubino
A dancer, choreographer, fitness professional, massage therapist, model, and designer, Rubino says she uses Craigslist to find jobs in all these areas of her professional life. Giralt was looking for an Elvis impersonator, and she wrote to him: “I don’t look like Elvis, but I am looking for someone to photograph me as a Cher impersonator. Interested?”

Shabbat Ruscioelli and Joel
Shabbat was seven months pregnant with twins when she and Joel answered the ad. They soon found themselves trudging through a record 26.9 inches of snow to get to the studio. A few months later, Giralt received this note (with photos, of course):

They came out on Easter at 12:40 & 1:10 p.m.
I had a beautiful drug free birth….
and they were absolutely huge!!
He (Theo) weighed 7lb 4oz.
She (Violet) weighed 6lb 8oz.
They were both the size and length
of full term singles!!! -Totally Amazing!

Flickr Faves: Halloween

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

halloween1.jpgCan’t make it to New York City for the parade? We’ll take you there. SMITH photography editor Audrie Lawrence began a Flickr search for Halloween images and stumbled upon the work of Michael Smith, a 52-year-old photographer from Starrucca, PA, who only in the past few years started shooting digitally and whose birthday is in fact Halloween. “The moment I came across Michael’s image stream, I was transfixed,” says Lawrence. “His eerie and timeless images of the Halloween Parade transported me to the experience of the parade and the night of Halloween.”

SMITH asked Smith a few questions about himself and what inspires an aesthetic that one Flickr member calls “authentic echoes from old weird America.” View his stream here.

Name: Michael Reed Smith.

Camera: For these shots I used a Canon F1 with 24-, 35- and 85-mm lenses. My flash was an NVS-1 (a modified 283 Vivitar). Currently I still shoot with the F1, but also use a Fujica GW690, a Canon G5 digital and a Leica MP.

What first attracted you to photography?


I have always been interested in photographing people, and the street is the easiest way to do people pictures. I suppose the attraction to street photography comes from the photographers and photo books I admired most when I was young. The Farm Security Administration photographs come to mind, as well as photographers such as Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Danny Lyons, Phillip Jones Griffiths, and Susan Meiselas.

Is NYC’s Halloween parade something you attend and photograph every year, or are these images scenes you wanted to capture for the sake of recording them?
Actually, I only went to the NYC parade twice. The second time was with a camera.

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
My rule of thumb for any photograph, no matter what the subject, is whether it can hold my attention for more than five seconds.

What do you consider off-limits?
I don’t consider much off-limits as long as my subject is not overtly hostile to my picture taking.

Where do you derive inspiration?
A lot of photographers inspire me. Today I looked at some of Eugene Richards’s photos.

What are your other favorite Flickr streams?
John Brownlow is someone I discovered recently on Flickr. I think his street photography is amazing.

What are the sites, photocentric or not, that you most love online?
I’ve fallen in love with Joe Bageant’s writing lately. His site is called Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War.

The Last Days of the Polaroid

Friday, October 20th, 2006

By Jason Bitner, FOUND magazine

Davy Rothbart and I started FOUND back in 2001 as a collaborative project for people to share the hilarious, strange and heartbreaking stuff that they found as they went about their lives. It could be a grocery list on a Post-it note or a dirty drawing on the back of a spiral notebook - if it was interesting, it was fair game.

Not to play favorites, but we always had a special place in our hearts for Polaroids. It seems like everyone has had the pleasure of wielding that clunky camera and snapping a few shots, watching it spit the film back out, and smelling that Polaroid scent. Once the image finally (finally!) materialized after five minutes of impatient shaking, what were you left with? Instant nostalgia - framed and faded, a picture that already looked decades old.

With the advent of digital photography, all of that is fading fast. While the era of the Polaroid picture hasn’t entirely vanished, this expensive and temperamental medium is in its waning days. The digital age offers clearer shots at cheaper prices, while allowing the photographer more freedom to manipulate and improve the picture. But you know what? We’re still suckers for the Polaroid. How can you beat a well-weathered Polaroid photo with gravel actually embedded into the white borders? That’s beauty you can’t find anywhere else.

So at FOUND we want to celebrate the last days of Polaroid. Over the years we’ve received thousands of spellbinding Polaroids from around the world. In our new book, from which these and dozens of other shots have been unearthed, we showcase our absolute favorites. We think they’re some of our best finds ever.

Leave a caption after any of the Polaroids you see here. The writers of the best three (as deemed by FOUND creators Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner) win a copy of FOUND Polaroids. Not too shabby.

Click to enlarge

#1. #2.

#3. #4.

#5. #6.

#7. #8.

#9. #10.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.