I was lucky enough to attend PolaCon 2016 in Denton, Texas last month, and it was an eye-opener for me. This instant film convention, sponsored by the Instant Film Society in conjunction with Film Photographic and Denton Camera Exchange, was a weekend jam-packed with workshops, PolaWalks, and demos. Best of all, it was a gathering of like-minded photographers who were eager to connect, learn and have fun!
I’ll admit that seeing the level of talent, expertise and knowledge in this group was somewhat intimidating. I realized quickly how little I really know about the wide range of cameras and ways to shoot instant film. I’ve been shooting instant film since 2008 (back in the days when you could still walk into many stores and buy original Polaroid film off the shelf) so I am familiar with many of the vintage Polaroid cameras and films.
What blew me away, though, was seeing an entirely new world of cameras and film–photographers shooting 4×5 and 8×10 instant film, working with cameras I’d never encountered, manipulating and coaxing life from old expired films. And the new generation of films and cameras–by The Impossible Project, MiNT Camera and New55–were equally impressive.
As often happens at events like these, I spent more time watching and learning than actually picking up my own camera. But shooting an expired pack of original Polaroid film (dated 2007) and seeing those images actually come to life was probably the most fun I’ve had with instant film in quite a while.
At the end of the conference I was exhausted, but inspired. A weekend immersed in creativity left me filled with ideas, information, and names of new-found friends. And that, my friends, is a happy ending!
P.S. If you didn’t get to attend PolaCon 2016, mark your calendar now for next year’s event the first weekend in October. In the meantime, keep up with all things related to Instant film on the Instant Film Society’s Facebook page.