Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Time--The Polaroid Book: Selections From The Polaroid Collections Of Photography

The Polaroid Book: Selections From The Polaroid Collections of Photography
I love photography, and one of my first cameras I owned was a little Polaroid instant film camera that I still have to this day along with some film that I keep carefully packaged as finding film for sale is a pain if you don't want to go on Ebay and pay an arm and a leg. So yeah, I have a soft spot for photographic art and Polaroid pictures, therefore you think I would love this book, right? Well, you would be correct.

My girlfriend dragged me to an Urban Outfitters and I expected to be bored out of my mind, so expect my surprise when I discovered they had a pretty cool selection of vinyl records and books. I stumbled upon this little hardcover wrapped neatly in plastic and was intrigued by what it could contain so I purchased it and took it home to find myself very pleased by its contents. Now, woe to be anyone who tries to assign a rating of any sort to an art book based on the art itself, so know that I am not so much judging this based on the photos but how good a job the editor/author, Barbara Hitchcock, did at selecting a wide range of photographs. There are landscapes, portraits, normal pictures, ones that have been painted on or messed around with for neat effects, and a wide range by artists even a layperson like myself would know such as Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, and lesser-known people I have never heard of. The unifying theme is that everything is very beautiful, with some pictures just taking your breath away.
Big names such as Andy Warhol show up in addition to folk I don't know.
There are piece that show loneliness, beauty, ugliness--pretty much the full range of human emotion and feeling. There are images of destruction but there isn't anything really outright disturbing, violent, or gross Therefore, this isn't a book you would be embarrassed to have out for friends to see--unless of course you are a huge prude and the occasional nude art-piece in here gets you all in a tizzy, which if it does, please grow up and be mature, the human body is beautiful and etc. etc.
Besides the photographic pieces there are some interesting historical facts presented by Ms. Hitchcock that I found helped me appreciate just how these Polaroid pictures came into being, along with just how Polaroid technology even exists--so that is quite snazzy also. Don't, "get it twisted," however, the star of the show would be the numerous photos (254 by 203 artists to be exact) which I found were all of high quality, even if not every single one excited me. However, when I stumbled upon one that made me go, "Wow, that's incredible," I was quite pleased--and I did that a fair amount of times while reading this book.
When I got my first camera/Polaroid camera I fancied myself to be a bit of an amateur artist. I went out and attempted to shoot various landscape shots, portraits, still-life shots that caught one's eye, and the like, but the sad truth is my best photographs were ones that I took accidentally such as when I was jumping on the bed with my cousins, shot a photo, and it came out all surreal looking, or I somehow messed up the film one time and created a neat effect on a photo I took of myself. I tell you this because when looking at these photos I realize just how remedial my photography skills are/were. Nowadays thanks to a high-school photo class I know how to take a good group photo when people want a picture taken at a party or something of that sort, but I am light-years away from being an artist. Maybe that is what makes me appreciate people who have actual talent all the more.
This is a great book, and remember, you can't rate the individual photos in a book as assigning a score to art is a pointless endeavor, so I am merely assigning this high score to the book based on its assortment of Polaroid photographs and their wide range of subjects, and the interesting essay parts of the book. The photos are really great though.
5 out of 5 stars.
The Polaroid Book: Selections from the Polaroid Collections of Photography (Taschen's 25th Anniversary Special Editions) should you have a hankering for some good photographic art. Or check out their website for more books.

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