Presenting Polaroids Part 1: Getting Started

Note: The companion YouTube video can be found at the bottom of this post.

So far, my Polaroid-centric videos and blog posts have focussed on the technical side of getting a good SX-70 image on that shiny piece of plastic that comes out of the camera. Many will be duds but, with luck and a little bit of skill, some of those photos will be so beautiful that they demand some way of presenting them to the world that capitalizes on and reinforces their beauty.

Back in my darkroom days, spending hours tweaking an image to make the best possible print was a rewarding process. But when I matted them, framed them and hung them on the wall, well, that took the experience to a whole different level.

The Polaroid experience is different of course. The little package of polyester and chemicals that ejects from my camera is the negative, the darkroom and the print all in one. When it works, it is a truly rewarding experience and, just as I did with my darkroom prints, I have that same urge to make the best possible presentation out of my little SX-70s.

That’s what this series of posts is about. I want to move beyond pinning a bunch of Polaroids to the wall or, what I would call, warehousing Polaroids in plastic sleeves in an album.  I want to take my photos to the next level. I want to see them—and for others to see them—as the extraordinary little jewels that they are. In short, I want them to pop.

I’ve been exploring and refining a bunch of different presentation options and I want to share those experiments and results with you. I’ll be covering a lot of ground so, rather than doing it all in one overly long post, I’m going to break it down into a series of posts and companion videos (on my YouTube channel), each dealing with a specific presentation method. 

I’ll be dealing with a few Polaroid projects completed over the last two years and I’ll be showing you how I’ve chosen to present them. Behind me, in the above photo and the video below, is one of those series. It’s a small set of round Polaroids of flower arrangements. While the individual photos that came out of the camera are quite beautiful, I hope you can see how they are transformed into something extraordinary once framed and put on a wall. For my other photo projects, I’ll look at other framing methods as well as custom albums and boxed print sets. I’ll provide how-to details and work through variations for each technique

The idea is not to say how you should go about presenting your Polaroids. You may find a less formal approach more to your liking. My proposals will cost more than filling a binder with Print File sleeves or thumb-tacking Polaroids to a wall. But the costs are not unreasonably high and, in my mind, well worth it for those special photos. My hope is that it will lead you to experiment with these and other approaches that will take your Polaroid images to the next level.

Hopefully we’ll meet again in part two of Presenting Polaroids.  

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