In the spirit of completion and curiosity, I recently began an extensive project of looking through hundreds of boxes of my 20 x 24 polaroids.
Typically, a day's work at the 20 x 24 studio would result in 30 - 50 prints, of which on average 2 or 3 might I thought were noteworthy and worth showing. Now that I am revisiting this work, I am surprised at how much of it I have overlooked, as well as how dreadful some of it was.
The polaroid camera was very unforgiving. A bad picture is really bad. In the late 80's, we U-Hauled the camera and all the necessary lighting, equipment, generators and drying racks to Rangeley, Maine to work with the dogs on location.
It boggles my mind at how hard everyone worked and how tenacious we all were. The polaroid film liked to processed at 70 degrees, so if it was too cold out, the prints would look purple/cyan. But on occasion the pictures were spectacular, and worth all the effort.
I am often asked if I miss working with the big camera. No.
I like working with the digital Hasselblad with the huge files, and the fact that all the lighting, equipment, printers and computers are here in my studio. I don't have to deal with lugging this beast around the woods of Maine or trekking to Soho with the dogs every time I want to use it. I do miss working with John Reuter and other tech assistants I got to know and love at the 20 x 24 studio.
And I miss seeing the curve in the lives of each dog under the scrutiny of one lens. The most hauntingly sweet and surprisingly poignant aspect of looking through these boxes of polaroids is seeing, because I am searching through the photos in reverse, my dogs Penny, Bobbin, Chip, Chundo, Batty, Crooky and Fay, all growing younger and younger.
I can see more unsparingly how some dogs like Batty and Man Ray showed the effects of age while others, notably Fay, Chip and Penny, who died before their time, remain forever young.
And besides the dogs there is the occasional human; assistants, friends, and my children Atlas and Lola. Memory lane.