“It’s a great time for analog and Polaroid in general,” says photographer Phil V, who founded the thriving online community, Polaroids of People, in 2015. With a popular Instagram and website, Polaroids of People features instant photography from around the world. “I want to highlight as many [Polaroid photographers] as I can manage,” says V.
Unlike some photographers, who use Polaroid in addition to analog or digital SLR cameras, V works with Polaroid exclusively. “I always liked to take portraits, and speak to people,” he says. “I’ve always been into interacting with the actual person.” Though he got his feet wet experimenting with his friend’s digital camera 5 years ago, V chose to work with Polaroid (and Impossible film) because it allowed him to better engage with his subjects. “Approach people with the Polaroid, and they’re enticed at the camera itself.” It opens up a conversation.
Always ready to collaborate, V started photographing artists, which led him to incorporate mixed media into his work as well. “I was getting people to sign the Polaroids, interact with them,” he says. “It’s another extension of photography to help people express themselves. Someone could just write their signature. Or create an abstract piece on top of the Polaroid itself.” From there, V found graphic designers, journalists, and more to incorporate into the community, in addition to new Polaroid photographers. “It’s inclusive, and not limited to just photographers,” he says.
Plus, Polaroids of People will soon feature a magazine and now features a channel. “I want the print magazine to be traditional,” V says. “The market says print is dead, but it represents the nostalgic aspect. It’s so tangible and you can touch it.” The channel, meanwhile, launched September 5. The first episode highlights photographer Margartio De La Guetto from Barcelona. “We’ve been talking on the internet for a year now. We’ve been communicating so much, we already know the vibe.” However, De La Guetto doesn’t know English, and V doesn’t know Spanish. “I was walking around with Google Translate.”
In the future, V hopes to develop his community as a source of inspiration for other instant film affectionados. “Maybe this time next year we’ll have 100 photographers on the website,” he says. “One big source of inspiration.” He also hopes to continue curating exhibitions. “I’m not a curator. I like to make things happen. Whatever that’s called. I want to keep doing that.”