With an old Polaroid recently given to me, I have been taking photos. And as I 'watch myself' taking photos, I've realized that I'm absolutely uninterested in normal, good-looking, well-framed, in-focus photos. My iPhone, old as it is, does that really well. I want to take imperfect, fuzzy, strangely framed photographs.
The aesthetic I'm going for is toward the kind of photo that you would find at the bottom of a shoebox in the back of the closet. A splice of a moment in time, rather than glossy documentation perfect for social media platforms.
I think there's a nostalgia within this aesthetic, a nostalgia for all things analog and akin to the Stranger Things craze; it's also a reactionary pulse against what technology makes so easy with all our filters and fixes. But neither of these explain the deeper appeal these Polaroid photos have for me.
I think that appeal is what children and young adults do with a camera - they see and capture things in a lop-sided way. Not just literally lop-sided (though that too) - but a kind of eye that makes smaller things bigger and bigger things smaller. Things that will be important to adults and their critical social imaginaries are just not that important to kids' perceptions. They want to get the hot dog on the rotting picnic table. Or, who cares that the edge of the car is in the sublime vista?
That's what it is, I think, that I find so alluring here - a kind of freedom from typical adulthood framing devices, which ultimately calibrates what's worth framing and what's not.
The Polaroids in the bottom of the shoebox at the back of the closet tell the stories no one ever thought to see.