Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Phil V has been shooting with his Polaroid camera at art exhibitions, concerts and music related events consistently for the past 3 years. All of the instant photographs exhibited at ‘Document the Fresh’ were taken from this ever-expanding catalogue; his very earliest images back in 2012 up to the present day.
“With the exception of one photo set from my trip in Guyana, South America, every instant photograph so far has been taken on New York City ground. A picture is still worth a thousand words, as cliche as that sounds. I want to tell the stories of creative individuals, one instant photo at a time, from my personal point of view. I want to organically interact with as many creative people I become inspired by, through photography. So far, I’ve met a bunch of talented musicians, contemporary and fine artists, chefs, clothing designers, graphic designers, athletes and other photographers.
The people I’ve photographed over the past 3 years have continuously inspired me to continue to meet new people. Whether it’s by sneaking into a venue to get the shot I want or contributing to a publication, everything organically falls into place when properly prepared. I have countless stories and encounters in these short 3 years. I’ve squeezed my SX-70 into my back pocket almost every single day. Some days I take no photos, some days I run through packs of film in minutes. Some days I randomly run into amazing people, some shoots are scheduled in advance for a special purpose. I’ve been able to build a portfolio and contribute to numerous publications as a photographer and writer, all whilst solely using an SX-70 camera.
At first I had to really take my time, looking at light, composition – and start to think like my camera
Polaroid-format photography is a 30-year-old medium that people are still very much in love with, regardless of the “advancement” of technology. Whenever I tell people about The Impossible Project they’re instantly excited to go look for their old Polaroid cameras. I began to take instant photos of everything; from my friends, to the many baroque-like statues around New York City. I’ve always enjoyed going to concerts and events, but once equipped with a Polaroid camera I quickly began to build a collection of instant photographs, and was able to meet various artists whom I was a genuine fan of.
I always get the people I take photos of to personalize their photo, by writing whatever they’d like on the frame with a marker. I never tell them what to write and the results are works of art in itself. Some are more creative than others, personalizing their photo with much more than just an autograph. It’s an instant, on the spot interaction that can’t be duplicated by any other medium in the world. Getting a person to instantly personalize their instant photo is something you can’t experience with an iPhone or digital camera. I’m not sure I’d get the same reception using one of these. The cameras personality even outshines my own.
When I purchased my first camera in 2012, it was a subconscious decision. I didn’t fully realize what I was really getting myself into; I just kept telling myself i need to find a Polaroid camera. I was already using a digital camera but I was searching for a different feeling. I wasn’t influenced by anyone to search for a Polaroid camera. I wasn’t even aware of The Impossible Project when I made the purchase. After using my camera for the first time, I found the feeling I’d been searching for. People’s reaction to seeing a Polaroid camera is exciting and it shows in the photo. They’re excited to see the results and eager to take more.
Everything in 2015 is extremely fast paced. I feel instant photos allow you to appreciate photography much more than shooting with a digital camera. Shooting with a digital camera is still as much of challenge, except with different variables. I started off buying one pack of instant film at a time, multiple times a week. There’s more pressure, with 8 exposures, to get 8 “good” results, which is a challenge I look forward to. My collection is continuing to organically grow, one portrait at a time.
Simply put, less is more. I quickly realized instant photographs aren’t as disposable as other mediums. I’ve gained a major appreciation for photography by shooting instant photos. In 2015, compared to an iPhone or a digital camera, it’s a unique medium. Regardless of who it is, when you approach someone with a Polaroid camera they become intrigued. If the moment is organic, it’ll show in the photo. The film makes me value photography in a new way, I need to pay closer attention to what I’m capturing. I’ve learned more and more about how important lighting is to an instant photo, with or without a flash. I’ve never been traditionally taught photography, but my Polaroid camera has been my hands-on teacher. I’d like to continue to create more mixed media canvas pieces to display my collection as a whole, to exhibit across the world.”