Three Years ago this week, we quietly opened the virtual doors of The Photographic Journal.
1095 days of designing, writing, curating, and publishing our little labor of love, sharing the stories and images — and we’re celebrating this week in style, with our three founding members kicking off an ongoing series in collaboration with The Impossible Project.
We love our Polaroid cameras, though this should come as no surprise. With the demise of the original film, it seemed some of our favorite cameras would merely collect dust, becoming beautiful yet functionless examples of a lost era of photography. Thankfully, The Impossible Project saved us all from that depressing future, carrying the torch of Edwin Land’s greatest achievement. They have not only extended the life of our favorite instant cameras, but allowed current and future generations of photographers to experience the tactile feedback of instant film.
This collaboration is the start of something bigger, an exploration beyond the confines of this little journal we call TPJ, and we’re really excited to see where the road leads.
As the three of us live in different cities, we sought a broad unifying theme; something that could tie us together but not bind us in chains. What better than the beach to get our motors running?
And yet, we wanted to do something different, even in this familiar space. Each of us running our own experiment, pushing the boundaries of our personal styles and comfort zones:
Agustin worked with multiple subjects, leaving the safe harbor of one-on-one interactions for slightly more crowded shores.
Lou worked at night, with a new (for him) face, black & white film, and lots of flash.
Dan departed from his landscapes and editorial images, focusing instead on a single person within a single environment.
So here they are: Three experiments. Three photographers. The Photographic Journal, performing for you with their favorite photographic process, using film supplied by the current stewards of the instant film flame, The Impossible Project.
Lovely subjects, lovely film, lovely light.
I am not a morning person. Correction: I am not an early riser. I wake up in a fair mood, but enjoy the warmth of light on my eyelids as I rise. And while I amin Miami, I live a good 30 minutes away from the beach. So doing the math… carry the one… account for some snoozing time… I would need to be up at 5am to be on the road by 5:45am to be at the beach by first light… Ugh.But my real challenge is not getting up early. It is shooting with two models at the same time. Two models who are friends, who are apt to giggle and chat, while I stress about the rising sun and its harshly unfiltered Miami light. This is something I am not familiar with.
And especially when shooting film, I’m extra cautious to wait for that special moment to release the shutter. But what do I do when there’s twice as much to wait for? Twice as many eyes looking back at me? Twice as many moments to capture, or miss?
A cigarette, a chat and, we’re off. Settling into the shoot, falling into its rhythm. Click and the familiar Motor-Whir of an SX-70. One model arrived later than expected. The sun came up faster than expected. All these expectations!
But no matter. Stay in the moment. Surrender. Fall into what you know. The sunlight is too bright. The camera misfires a few times. Try and control everything too much, and your intuition betrays you. Push past the technical and feel your way through.
I stop worrying. Start having a good time with Nicole and Arlene. Chatting about life, listening to their stories, being in the moment. This is why I take photos. The images, they are a by-product of making life fun, capturing beauty in something that could be see as ordinary.
Be less scared. Be more trusting.
Location: North Miami Beach, FL
Models: Arlene Delgado and Nicole Hitchins
Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Sonar Model 2
Editor in Chief
In my head it was a series of challenges, but shooting the beach at night with a model who’s been photographed by every good photographer I know with instant film? That’s less a bunch of challenges, more a bunch of reasons to lay awake at night, filled to bursting with anxiety.So I lay it all out for Kaiman while we’re driving to the beach, and even just saying it out loud helps to get some perspective on it. See it less as an obstacle course, more of an opportunity. Play around, have a good time, don’t sweat the results.
Kaiman helped to chill me out, and also helped me get my mind off the Problems, and focus instead on the Opportunities. She was a fantastic collaborator, light on her feet, communicative, energetic.
Found myself emboldened by the sense of joy she took in modeling, had ourselves a fine time figuring out all the solutions to the problems I’d set for myself.
Location: Malibu & Santa Monica, CA
Model: Kaiman Kazazian Camera: Polaroid SLR680
Editor at Large
I love shooting portraits, though I do it infrequently and often with strangers, randomly during my travels. This shoot was a chance to use a camera and film I love to do something I have a strong desire to do more of, something I’ve always watched Agustin and Lou doing so well. Cue ample self-doubt and nerves about my work sitting alongside theirs, in a style they know so well.The plan was to shoot this on Brighton Beach back in July, on the South coast of England. It wasn’t as far-fetched as you might think: I live just outside of London, and It’s often quite sunny there — especially during Summer.
The realities of travel and scheduling worked against me, however, and Brighton never quite happened the way I wanted it to, so when a quick family visit to Florida came up in September I knew I had to take the opportunity to get myself to the beach and shoot.
Agustin had worked with Natalie before, and knew she’d be perfect for what I wanted to capture — having that introduction made it easier for us to trust each other and dive straight into creating, and as soon as we started shooting the self-doubt and nerves made way for confidence and collaboration. The light was perfect, just a few patches of clouds to soften the often-harsh edges of Miami’s tropical sun.
The shoot was a reminder of how important it is to push yourself, to constantly experiment outside your comfort zone — and even though I do that a lot, purposefully doing things that challenge your weaknesses (or at least, what you feel weakest doing) will yield results you could never expect.
Location: Hobie Beach, FL
Model: Natalie Foucauld
Wardrobe: The Velvet Party
Camera: Polaroid SLR680
In Collaboration with The Impossible Project
The founders of Impossible purchased the last factory in the world manufacturing Polaroid instant film, creating ‘The Impossible Project’. Their aim was simple: to save 200 million Polaroid instant cameras from becoming utterly useless. For more on their fantastic films, visit: The Impossible Project