Asser Levy Pool Revisted
On Friday, I will be taking this huge camera to a NYC public pool to continue a personal project that began in 1995. Last Fall, Jennifer Trausch, Director of Photography at 20×24 Studio, and I began talking about me shooting with one of the few 20” x 24” Polaroid cameras still around. In case you don’t know of it, 20×24 Studio is the famed Polaroid studio where the likes of Chuck Close, William Wegman and many others, (including, most recently, Lady Gaga)(!) have created the large, familiar instant photographs. When Polaroid went defunct, 20×24 Studio purchased one of the five 20×24 instant film cameras in existence, the remaining stock of instant film and rights to the chemical formulas.
Over the last few months I have tried to imagine what I would shoot with this camera. Considering the preciousness of every sheet, I wanted the relative security of pointing the camera at stuff I knew would be interesting, but with that security comes the risk of the picture becoming staid and predictable. I considered (briefly) shooting in the studio, but luckily, Trausch, an intrepid photographer in her own right was totally game for doing several locations on the street and encouraged me to continue considering uncontrolled situations. I have been wanting to revisit my Asser Levy Pool series, shot in 1995 at the public pool by the same name on 23rd and FDR Dr in Manhattan. Shot all in black and white, the series has always been close to my heart as it was the first project that I photographed with an 8×10 camera. Half thinking the Parks Dept—notorious for denying permission to the public pools—wouldn’t go for it, I submitted the permit with examples of the work from 1995 and was thrilled when they approved my permit for this Friday.
I remember how awkward an 8×10 camera seemed to me back in 95, trying to capture moments at a NYC public pool. I imagine after this Friday, my 8×10 will seem like a toy. Btw, from my understanding, the challenge in shooting outside with ultra large Polaroid in direct sunlight—especially at a pool that has glare from the water bouncing up from below—is that the camera has to be opened to cut the roll and handle the chemicals inside.
We plan on shooting roughly from 1pm to 4pm this Friday, July 30 on the corner of 23rd St and the FDR drive. So if you are in the city, come and check it out!
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