Got a broken instant camera that messes up your snaps without fail? Maybe, the ruined Polaroids you'll find after the jump will make you want to find out what kind of crazy image your instant camera will create.
Many would consign a broken vintage camera to lay forgotten in the attic, or turned into a quirky decoration for a retro-themed room. However, when veteran photojournalist William Miller found out that the old Polaroid SX-70 camera he “rescued from a yard sale” mangled the instant film he loaded in it, he nevertheless continued to shoot with it. Sometimes, he told This is Paper, the instant camera would “spill out 2 pictures at a time;” oftentimes, it would even expose and destroy the films that get stuck in its “violent mechanisms.” The results? Images that are exposed, stressed, and pulled into abstraction.
Now, the logical choice would most likely be to stop using it and not waste precious instant film, but Miller eventually found himself a willing collaborator with the camera that seemed to have an artistic sense of its own. “Before long I was participating in its process, collaborating with it. I’ve figured out how to control and accentuate aspects of the camera’s flaws but the images themselves are always a surprise. Each one is determined by the idiosyncrasies of the film and the camera,” he said.
Miller, certainly “impressed with the old technology’s resilience,” now keeps and curates these mangled, abstract instant photos in a series aptly called Ruined Polaroids. “When the narrative and depictive elements are nearly removed from the photographs one can concentrate on the details of its abstraction,” he says about the series. “Any representational remnants of the original image as well as any hint of the will of the photographer become recontextualized inside this new dynamic.”
Visit William Miller’s Website to find out more about him, his work, and the “Ruined Polaroids” series!