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life in an instant {6/9/13}

Kelley Clink

This past year my friend Annette Gendler introduced me to the work of Susannah Conway: a writer/photographer with a soft spot for Polaroids. And no, these ain't your mama's Polaroids--by which I mean they aren't the blinding-flash-overexposed family portraits from the 80s that my brother and I lined up on the piano, watching our ghostly green faces swim into focus. These are dreamy, artful photographs, with a softness that can't be replicated in any other medium. 

After reading Conway's books This I Know and Instant Love , I hopped online and found myself a crusty old SX-70 Polaroid camera and some film from The Impossible Project. I haven't looked back since.

Why Polaroid? Aside from the dreamy quality, I find myself drawn to the tangibility. There are myriad benefits to digital photography, but at the end of the day I like holding something in my hand. I also like how shooting instant film forces me to slow down. There are only 8 exposures in a pack, and that shit isn't cheap. Unlike the unlimited (by comparison) range of a digital camera, where I can blast off like a machine gun and fix the mistakes with editing software, instant demands that I ground myself in the moment fully and really think about what I want to shoot. What do I see? Why is it special? How do I want to frame it? After several months (and more wasted film than I want to admit), I am still getting used to this. But I'm beginning to discover that less is more. That I need to be patient, to wait for the shots that demand to be taken. And--much like in life--to forgive myself for, and learn from, the mistakes.

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