It is hard to believe that one year ago today, in early March 2020, Gail and I were readying for a trip to France. We were to leave on March 30, arrive in Paris, make our way to the small city of Langres and continue our walk along the Via Francigena pilgrimage route towards Rome for another 550 kilometres.
One year later, and that trip is still on hold with no reasonable expectation that we can resume any sooner than the spring of 2022. While I am eager to get back on the trail—I will be in my seventieth year by then with many long walks still on the waiting list—life at home in Winnipeg has not been one of regrets. In spite of lockdowns and social distancing, my days seemed to overflow with creative exercises and hyper-local diversions.
2020 opened new horizons, the most notable being my From Our Windows project. Aside from the purely creative process of putting together a new photographic series, that project drew me deep into the unique, arguably lost world of Polaroid SX-70 photography.
The vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera and its recently reintroduced film packs have certainly captured my imagination. Although Polaroid is thought of as instant photography, that is a relatively recent moniker ascribed to the SX-70 medium by the press in the 1970s. In fact, Edwin Land and Polaroid continuously marketed their products—from their introduction in the 1940s—as one-step photography. Press the camera shutter button and a fully finished print is ejected. No trips to the camera lab. No darkrooms. No framing. Instead, the camera ejects a finished framed print while still looking at the subject just photographed. There is some magical sense of continuity here, spanning the 1970s to the 2020s. As a completely self-contained process, the Polaroid is the perfect metaphor for our pandemic times.
If you follow WalkClickMake through 2021, be prepared to learn about my latest Polaroid work, not only from a technical standpoint or as a quaint, historical photographic process but as the click that intersects with my walking and making goals.
I know there are people reading my blog with a specific interest in cameras, or photography, or long-distance walking, or bookmaking or with the fascinating life of Styxx, our greyhound. Over the years, WalkClickMake has woven a path through those diverse, yet perversely connected, subjects. Fear not, dear reader, WalkClickMake is not turning Polaroid-centric. The blog will remain true to its objective: to explore “the unlikely intersections of walking, clicking and making.” Consider my Polaroid interests as just one more patch added to the crazy quilt of WalkClickMake.
If this sounds like a vague roadmap for WalkClickMake, version 2021, it is purposely so. In the end, I have no idea where this year’s path will lead me, other than to adventures no less exciting than a walk across France.
I’ve really enjoyed the series so far. I’ll be happy to see some photos of walking in France and Italy though!
Thanks Andrew. I look forward to France/Italy photos as well. Soon…I hope.
A photo shot on a Polaroid Pathfinder in 1968 of me by my cousin changed my life as it inspired me to pursue photography on my own journey. I understand exactly what you are communicating in your commentary. Being in the advertising business for more than 40 years I have often wished I had kept the literally thousands of Polaroid photos taken while setting up the “hero” shot and then discarded.