The importance of a print

A picture of my Grandpa and Grandma

I have been meaning to write this blog post for quite some time. Yet, for what ever reason, I just never got around to it…. Maybe it was because I needed a bit of distance from the subject. Maybe I was too busy or just said that to myself as an excuse for laziness. Whatever the reason, now is actually the appropriate time for this post. You see, one year ago today, I was in a condo in Beaver Creek Colorado, getting ready for a big wedding to shoot that day. Courtney was prepping Avi, talking to her about the babysitter who was on her way, and I was drinking a cup of coffee thinking how I should be getting in the shower. Looked at my phone and saw a missed call and a message from my Mom. On the voicemail, there was a crack in her voice. It was the sort of message where you knew that when you called back it wasn’t going to be good: your Grandpa died today. I kept my cool. Stayed calm. Made sure my Mom was okay. Asked about Grandma. My mom apologized for calling saying that she should have known that I was going to be off to shoot a wedding, but I assured her that I would have wanted to know right away. I thanked her for calling and letting me know. I told her I loved her. Hung up, teared up, and hugged my daughter. I cried in the shower, but then got dressed and went to work. That is how my grandpa would have wanted it anyways.

grandparents and avi

It was strange to be invited into people’s lives on one of their happiest days while inside you are grieving. A hand shake here, a congratulations there, and click click while you hide behind the camera. Honestly, it was an amazing wedding. One of our best of the year. I was grateful not to be shooting in LA though. Being in the mountains seemed appropriate. In between the chaos of the day and the festivities of the night, I took a few moments here and there to look out onto the view of the Rockies and to wish my Grandpa well. The client never knew. Early the next morning before Courtney and Avi woke up, I walked in the crisp air, down to the river, and waited for the sun to rise. My grandpa loved to fish. I sat there looking at the small pools in the river wondering which one he would choose to drop his fishing line into? Then I took a few pictures.

Eagle River, Colorado at sunrise

Ever-since my grandparents moved from California to Oregon, I hadn’t seen them very much. In the twenty years since they had moved out of Los Angeles, I had been up Oregon four or five times. It is so easy for life to get in the way: girlfriend, city life, college, marriage, work, child. I took for granted the fact at 36 years of age, I still had all four of my grandparents. Most people I know are usually lucky to have one or two grandparents when they are in their mid twenties while I still had all of mine into my mid thirties. They were always there. All my life I had known they were a phone call away or less than a day’s drive. I was lucky. As I write this, I realize that I should have been more grateful.

My Grandpa's hands

However, the point of these thoughts is to put perspective on the power of having photos of your family. My daughter will not remember ever meeting my Grandpa, but she has a picture with him. In a sense, she’ll never be able to say she met him as she is too young to remember such things. But as she grows into an adult, she’ll be able to know him through the photographs that I had taken on my last few trips to Oregon. She’ll be able to understand that he was a hard working man, an avid trap shooter, and competitive when it came to fishing. She’ll learn that he was stern, and not with out faults. But, she’ll learn that he was loyal to family a was a loving man despite his hard shell. Hopefully I learned a thing or two from him that made me a better person, and I hope that will make me a better father to her. She’ll learn all of then while being able to see him in a photograph. Photographs that Courtney and I took.

Memorial

Being a photographer has its challenges and being a wedding photographer means having to sacrifice the weekends when many of our family and friends get together. Courtney and I have missed out on many fun times over these past five years. We missed out on out daughter’s first birthday because we had booked a wedding before she was born thinking she wouldn’t actually be two weeks late. We’ve missed out on family reunions, barbecues with friends, birthday parties on the beach, and weddings of people who are close to out hearts. All of that being said though, we are grateful to live such a life. We are able to spend more time with out daughter than most of our friends are able to spend with their own children. We are grateful that we can be somewhat spontaneous through out the week. We are also grateful when a client chooses us to document an important time in their lives and tells us how much they love their photos. But, we are humbled when we learn that a client’s grandpa had passed and that one image that we captured between him and the groom meant so much to them. We are grateful that we were there, that the light looked nice, and that the warm embrace between loved ones happened in front of our lens. We are grateful to be photographers.

Avi in puddles

A month after my grandpa passed, we headed up to Oregon to his memorial. A chance to say goodbye amongst family and friends. I told a story about how I used to love riding in his old Dodge truck on out way to our family fishing trip. The windows would be rolled down in the summer heat. I would stare off into landscape of the high desert along Route 395. I shook hands with friends of his whom I hadn’t met before. Saw family whom I hadn’t seen in years. There were tears, but there were smiles too. When we got back to my grandma’s house that afternoon, Courtney and I let Avi run around and splash in some puddles. It had rained a bit earlier. The air was fresh. I was happy to be with my family. As we walked between old trucks and trees, I took a few pictures.

My Grandpa.

Still shooting Polaroids

If you have been a follower of our work for the past year or so, you'll know that Courtney and I have a 16 month old daughter, Avellana. Over the course of the first year of our daughter's life, I embarked on a photo a day project where I took at least one polaroid a day of Avi. It was quite a project and I ended up taking over 700 polaroids over the course of a year. You can see the final post of the project here. While I am no longer taking a Polaroid a day of Avellana, old habits are hard to break and I am still documenting her life in instant film. Here's another four months worth of Polaroids showing how fast our little girl is growing (with a few cats and landscape shots too).

Avi: Months 13-16

All images taken with various folding SX-70 cameras and instant films by The Impossible Project and old stock Polaroid.

365 +1 days of Avellana on instant film

If you have been a consistent follower of our work, you'll know that Courtney gave birth to our beautiful daughter last year. Prior to the birth, I knew that I would want to do some sort of art piece to honor and document our child. I had gone on a buying spree of folding SX-70 cameras early in 2011 with the launch of The Impossible Project films. Early images weren't that great, but the film had improved, so I decided (originally) to document the first 100 days of our daughter's life on instant film. However, 100 days had past with out me even realizing it, so at that point I decided to extend the project to one full year. Dedicating one self to a 365 day project to one subject on one format is pretty difficult. Compound that commitment to the challenges of learning how to be a father, learning ever changing shooting materials (Impossible Project and later old stock Polaroid film), and using old unreliable cameras, I had days of where I really wasn't sure if I could pull it off. Not to mention the times I suddenly realized that I hadn't taken a picture of Avi and would delay her bedtime for a picture. Not the best thing to ask of a tired baby or mama. But, persistence and support from Courtney paid off, and here I am writing this blog post. One might ask, why instant film? Why 30+ year old cameras? Why the Impossible Project? The answer to those questions really was that I didn't want this to be easy. I could have simply saved a whole lot of money and toted one of our digital cameras around. But, that wouldn't have been enough of a challenge. Taking pictures with a digital or traditional film camera would have allowed me to shoot too much. With this project, I would have to learn to take the good with the bad and accept that the one shot might not be technically perfect. I will admit, that I didn't limit myself to just one shot a day as I have accumulated about 700 polaroids over this past year.

Shooting this on instant film allowed me to explore an area of photography that I swore was lost. I had taken Polaroid for granted. Even with the rise of digital photography, in that back of my mind, I had always thought Polaroid would be around producing instant film. I figured over time the prices would go up, but not that Polaroid would stop producing film in 2008. This project not only allowed me to photographically witness my daughter growing up, but also allowed me the opportunity to take part in what I thought was a lost tradition of modern americana, stoping and snapping off a polaroid of your family.

While I could go one about my thoughts on the various films and get technical about things, the reality is that none of that stuff matters with this project in the end. What matters is one's ability to look at the pictures below and see a story of the first year in our daughter's life. This starts with a blurry shot on Courtney's chest moments after her birth, through naps, pee pee accidents, visits with family, visits with friends, travels across country (in planes and cars), experiences with a space shuttle, snow, doctor visits, messy dinners, toys, walks, Santa, our cats, to the morning of her birthday, and finally to a shot the day after: Avi at 365 +1 day... an image where Courtney was holding Avi and asked for a hug. Avellana squeezed back and I was able to get a shot of this while she looked out the window. The last image is first day of her new year.

For this project I made a 3x3 grid of pictures for each week of Avi's life. I have posted all of these on our blog through out the year, but here is a summery of those posts. Fifty-two 3x3 grids totaling 468 images in all. I have more beyond these from this past year, but I feel these tell a good story. I hope you enjoy.

I love you Avi! Your dad, Erin.

 

Thanks to family and friends who allowed me to take their photos with my daughter. Thanks to The Impossible Project. Thanks to my wife, Courtney. Thanks to my daughter, Avellana. 

How long has it been since we last posted any Polaroids?

It is a crazy to witness the growth of your child. Over the past few weeks our daughter has grown so much. She has gotten bigger. She started to crawl during our Christmas travels (just figured it out one day). She is recognizing people and objects by their names. It is also amazing to think that she'll be a year old in less than two months. Below are eight more weeks of instant film images using various folding SX-70 cameras with both Impossible Project and Polaroid films.

 Week 38

Week 39

Week 40

Week 41

Week 42

Week 43

Week 44

Week 45  

Weeks 35, 36, & 37 of Avi in Instant Film

Another few weeks with our amazing daughter! I have to admit that a few days ago, I was revisiting some older posts, and I couldn't believe how much she has grown. It is so easy to forget how small Avi was when she was first born. I almost miss her in a sense as that little baby is already gone. However, I can't wait to see where she'll go next. Hope you enjoy.

Week 35

 

Week 36

 

Week 37

All images taken with various folding SX-70 cameras using both available light and strobe. Films include Polaroid 600, Impossible Project PX-70 Cool, and one PX-100 UV+ 

A Polaroid summary of things so far...

As my instant film project of Avi continues, I like to combine the 3x3 collages that I do each week from time to time. This allows me not only to see how the project is growing, but to also allow me to look back at these past 8 months and see how much our little girl has grown so far. This represents 315 instant film images.

All images taken with various folding SX-70 cameras with Polaroid and The Impossible Project films.

Avi in Polaroid {Weeks 32, 33, & 34}

Another three weeks of our little Avi in Polaroid (and Impossible Project film)! From her first trip to the pumpkin patch, her first costume (sushi!), a trip to Palm Springs, and the Election, Avi has had a busy few weeks.

Week 32 Films include Polaroid 600 and Impossible Project PX100UV+

Week 33 Polaroid 600, Impossible Project Px70 Cool and Impossible Project PX100UV+

Week 34 Polaroid 600 and Impossible Project PX70 Cool 

 

Weeks 29, 30 & 31 of Avi in Polaroids

Three more weeks of Avi Polaroids. It is interesting as I shot mostly the newest Impossible Project films a few weeks ago and this past week have shot mostly expired Polaroid 600 film. Both have their pluses and minuses, but both are still great. The old 600 film is starting to loose contrast and have a warm tone as the film ages beyond it expiration date while the newest Impossible Project films are showing great color and contrast. Add to the fact that you don't have to be as diligent in shielding them from light, the newest Impossible Project films really have taken the torch in instant analog photography. That being said, it is nice to be able to visit the old friend that was once Polaroid 600.

Week 29 SX-70 camera and Impossible Project PX680 Color Protection film.

Week 30 SX-70 with Impossible Project films: PX70 Cool, PX680 Color Protection, PX70 Color Protection, PX100UV+ (with a red 25 filter) 

Week 31 SX-70 with Impossible Project PX70 Cool (cloud shot with a Polarizer filter) and Polaroid 600. 

Weeks 27 and 28 of Avi in Impossible Project Polaroids

I must admit, we have been so so busy with work and life that we are super behind on blogging our weddings and other projects. I wonder if people are starting to think we do nothing but take polaroids of our daughter instead of working? Of course since Avi was born our work has been featured here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere, and here. The sad thing is that while our work has been all over other blogs, so much of it hasn't been blogged by ourselves. I promise that we will have some wedding work up here for you soon! In the meantime... Santa Barbara, Upstate NY, 6 month check up and shots, tasting some food, and a nice visit up the street to our friend Suthi Picotte.

Week 27

 

Week 28

All images taken with various folding SX-70 Polaroids cameras. Impossible Project films include PX70 Cool, PX70V4B, PX680V4C, PX680 FF, and PX100 UV+ 

Weeks 25 and 26 of Avi

Two more weeks of Avi and another new film from the Impossible Project. This time using a new blend of their 600 speed color film. It has been pretty cool as one friend put it, "it's fun to see Avi and the film grow up". This newest batch of film (PX680 V4C Test) is really impressive. I hope you enjoy.

Week 25

All images with the Impossible Project's new PX680 test film V4C with the exception of the first image (PX680) 

Week 26 All images using the Impossible Project's PX680 Test film V4C

Weeks 21 through 23 of Avi in Polaroids

The past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind for out little Hazel Nut. First, we drove up to SF for an engagement shoot. Then down to Woodside (between Santa Cruz and Palo Alto) for that same couple's wedding. Avi got to meet some of our friends along the way. Then to Sacramento and Oregon to visit family. The great thing about Oregon was the fact that Avi was able to meet not only her Grandma (my mom) but her Great Grand Parents too! I am very lucky to still have all four of my grandparents. After that it was stops back into Sacramento and Tulare (more family) for the drive home. Almost 2000 miles in total. Despite the long drives, having Avi meet more family was awesome.

Week 21 (bottom right photo with the help of Sarah at Modern Kids Co)

Week 22

Week 23

All images taken with various folding SX-70 cameras. Films used include The Impossible Project's: PX70 Push!, PX70 Cool, PX 680, and Polaroid Artistic TZ.

Four more weeks of Avi Polaroids {Weeks 17 through 20}

Still shooting polaroids of our little Avi! Now that we are in the thick of wedding season it gets hard to sit down and scan all of them. But more importantly, I am still shooting at least a pic a day of our little girl. Hope you enjoy the pics.

Week 17

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

All images taken with various SX-70 and SX-70 Sonar cameras. Films used include PX70 Cool, PX680, PX100 Cool, PX600, and Polaroid Artistic TZ.

Three more weeks of Avi captured in Impossible Project Polaroids

Finally had a chance to sit down and scan three weeks worth of Polaroids today (52 images). Avi has had quite a busy few weeks. We shot one wedding in Ojai and took her along for the weekend. We were also lucky enough to shoot back in our old stomping grounds of Napa. We used the opportunity to pass her around to our friends and family along the way. She did pretty well in the car bouncing between Pasadena, Tulare, Sacramento, Napa, and back. Another important milestone for our little one was her 100th day. When I first started this project, my first initial thoughts were to stop at 100 days. It is interesting that 100 days is a common benchmark for people and their goals. In many Asian cultures, the 100th day of life was a time of celebration for the baby and their families. For us, it turned out to be the baby reunion of our birthing class. Somewhat fitting if you ask me as we were there to celebrate all of the new lives that have blessed us.

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

All images taken with various folding SX-70 cameras. Films include Impossible Project's: PX70 Cool, PX70 (12.11), PX100 Cool, PX70 Push, and PX600. One image with old Polaroid film from a recently purchased SX-70 Sonar.

Avellana Weeks 12 and 13 in Polaroid

Two more weeks of Avi Polaroids! Had a quick trip to Hawaii for a wedding. She is such an amazing flyer. So many comments from fellow travelers who were impressed on how well she does on a plane. Hope she continues as we still have two drives to NorCal and two flights to NYC this year!

Week 12

Week13

All images taken with various SX-70 Cameras with Polaroid and Impossible Project instant film: PX70 Cool, PX100 Cool, Px70 Push, and Polaroid Artistic TZ

Avellana at 11 weeks in Polaroids {plus an image summary}

Another week, another batch of Polaroids to scan. Avi had a good week. She went on a hike, picnic, and a mommy-and-me movie {Men in Black 3}. We also learned that hanging her little toy owl does wonders for keeping her occupied during car rides. One thing that I get asked from time to time is what will I do with all of these Polaroids? In the end I don't know. Part of the beauty of this project is that there is no end. They may be a point where I go from one a day to one a week, but what the final outcome of this will be is something to think about. I could mount and frame the individual polaroids themselves, or use the scans and make a large print. At some point I'll have to figure something out. But in the meantime, below is a summary of the posts all wrapped into one image. Hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I have been taking them.

Week 11

All images taken with various SX70 cameras in Impossible Project films: PX70 (12/11) and PX70 Cool.

Avi from day one until yesterday:

Avi {Weeks 9 and 10 in Polaroids}

Well, another two weeks have flown by and our little girl keeps growing. She had an eventful two weeks: first set of shots, my Dad's wedding {where she got to meet her Great Grandparents or Bisabuelos in Spanish}. We also spent a morning setting up some lights and making a little studio set up for our little one. It is always fun to play with my strobe kit paired with a SX-70. Courtney also introduced Avi to some of her old coworkers at Anthropologie. I am not looking forward to when she starts asking for those clothes {both Courtney and Avi!}. Finally, after we finally finished some long overdue weddings, the three of us went to a pub for lunch. It is amazing to watch our little one grow up!  

Week 9

 

Week 10

All images taken with various SX-70 cameras using Impossible Project instant film. The one exception being the vary last image. That is with Polaroid Artistic TZ gifted to us by Lane Dittoe.

Avi at week 8 and a Happy Mother's Day to Courtney {in Impossible Project Polaroids}

Another week of joy with our little Avi! It is becoming quite funny as when Courtney became pregnant, we swore we wouldn't have a bunch of baby plastic junk. But this week we broke down a bought a Fisher Price swing. It had to happen in order for us to get back on track with our editing. We now have a space under our living room window that is now dubbed: Avi Parking. That is where the swing, stroller, and carseat now live. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. :)

On another note, yesterday was Courtney's first Mother's Day. Having shot a 12 hour the wedding the day before, we celebrated with a brunch and a well deserved nap. I must say that I have been so impressed by Court. She has become such an amazing mom! She is so in touch with Avi and her needs. It is quite a thing to watch Courtney grow as a mother as Avi grows from a newborn to a baby. I can only imagine how their relationship will expand as time goes by.

Happy Mother's Day Courtney! You are such an amazing woman, mother, wife, and friend. -Love, Erin

All images taken with various SX-70 Cameras with Impossible Project's PX70 (12/11) film.

Avellana weeks 6 and 7 {on instant film}

Still shooting a Polaroid a day of our little Avi! It is so crazy to watch her grow. Just the other day when we put her into her carseat, her legs look so much longer. She is also starting to smile much more beyond her sleep. It is such a great feeling to have your daughter laugh. I hope she grows up a happy child. Avi was also visited by Punam Bean's Uma! Last weekend I couldn't put up my weekly post as we where traveling and shooting in Atlanta. She was such a good traveler barely making a peep on the plane. We stayed at a cool B&B called the Social Goat where she got to meet Sherman. Let's hope she keeps it up as the happy traveler because we have a trip to Hawaii and two to NYC this summer. At this rate, she'll be more traveled by the time she is two than I was when I was twenty two!

 

All images taken on a variety of Polaroid SX-70 cameras. All images taken on Impossible Project PX70 (12/11) with the exception of the image in the middle of the bottom row. Bottom row middle image taken with Polaroid Artistic TZ. Film courtesy of Lane Dittoe.

Our little Avi: Weeks 4 and 5 {Impossible Polaroids}

Didn't get a chance to scan last weeks Impossible Polaroids, so this week we get to show twice the amount of pics! It is so crazy to see how much she is growing. I am really looking forward to to a recap post with a selection of these sometime in the future. It will be interesting to watch her grow on instant film!

All images taken with SX70 cameras using Impossible Project instant film. Films include: PX70 (12/11), PX70 Push, PX600 Silver Shade, and PX680 First Flush. Most images are available light, but some are with the Mint Flash, and Pocketwizards and Speedlites