Shooting a Photo Project with Vintage Polaroids

Up until this current semester, I had yet to ever take a photography class. 

 

Since January, I’ve been completing NPF 568 – Analogue as Meaning. I’m lucky to have some talented classmates and a very knowledgeable professor. Any RTA folks with a deeper interest in film should consider taking it as an open elective, especially once we return to campus.

 

Our final project, due in a few days as I write this, is to take a series of photos on instant film. With almost all of my images ready, I’m happy to walk you through my experience capturing the series. I’ll warn you now though- it wasn’t easy. The cameras are mostly made of plastic, some hadn’t been used in decades, and the film is (expensively) unforgiving.

This Polaroid Sun 600 LMS belongs to RTA favourite Jeren Jeyakumar (more on that in a moment). I photographed it here on 35mm (Image Credit: Joe Mastromatteo).

I used both the Polaroid Sun 600 LMS and Polaroid Sun 660 Autofocus for the series. My friend Jeren, also in third-year Media Production, lent me THREE of his Polaroids early in the semester (including the Sun 600 LMS). Please refer to his Instagram account @jerenjake and @jerenjayfilm to support the man.

 

I got the Sun 660 plus a Polaroid SX-70 just last week, but I’ll refrain from nerding out on them here. 

 

One of the first things I tried to capture on Polaroid was a blue sky. 

Photo2

You can see that there’s some distortion on the frame. That was mostly my fault since this was likely the first film the camera had felt in years (and I hadn’t cleaned the dusty insides). It took me quite a few shots to even get a shot this clean and colourful. 

 

Polaroid will force you to shoot in bright daylight. Anything less than full sunlight will start to impact the colours and create undesirable dinginess or vignetting (unless you’re going for flash). 

Photo3

 You can see here in the tree scene that, since the sun was not as strong, you start to lose the brilliance of the sky and colours. I was still fairly pleased with the composition though.

These two frames, one on a sunny day outside the Skyline Restaurant on Queen and the other during a sunset in North York, essentially show the latitude of Polaroid in natural light. 

 

The Skyline Restaurant shot is one of my favourites. The sunny conditions and retro subject were perfect. The Skyline was featured in Andy Shauf’s latest album too (if you know, you know). 

 

Meanwhile, Polaroid genuinely handles low-light scenarios interestingly. Obviously, it can’t complete long exposures like an SLR could, but it can create some abstract depth nonetheless. 

 

All this said, if you can create nice images on Polaroid, you’re probably a very fine photographer. However, as I sort of alluded to earlier, you can always just pop the flash. You’d be the life of the (vaccinated) party with one of these Polaroids in hand. 

 

The project should be available over on my website joemastro.ca. As I said though, it’s not 100% complete as I write this. Future viewers and readers will have the benefit of seeing the final series as soon as this article is live!

 

Now, this is my last post of the year. I’m almost finished my third year as well (crazy)!  Please stay tuned to SpiritLive for more content. Many thanks to my talented peers for all their help as well. If you’re inclined to hear even more from me (for some reason), follow along @_joemastro. Thanks folks.

Posted in Blog.

Hey folks, my name is Joe. While I’m pursuing a career in digital sports media, I’m actually in my third year of RTA Media Production at Ryerson. As a photography nerd, film and music lover, and sports fan, I’ll be writing about anything media related. You can usually find me with a camera in hand on campus or anywhere around my hometown of Toronto. Feel free to check out my work on social media @_joemastro or on joemastro.ca.