20×24 Studio bio picture
  • 20×24 Studio, the Home of Large Format Instant Photography

    The 20×24 Studio announced this week that it will be ending production operations at the end of 2017. The company has been operating with film stock purchased in 2009 from Polaroid Corporation as it exited the film business. Executive Director John Reuter, who began working for Polaroid in 1978 stated that “our original business plan was for five years with the inventory purchased and for a variety of reasons we have not worked through the material. Instant film will not last forever and despite storing the film stock in cold storage and mixing the chemical reagent only as needed the studio projects that they can maintain the quality for two more years.” “Our hope now is that we can work on some great projects with many of our legacy clients as well as new artists who have yet to experience the ultimate in instant analog image making,” says Reuter. The Polaroid 20×24 camera stands apart from all other large format experiences because it delivers an instant finished photograph. The artist is able to react to the subject matter in a manner unlike any other photographic experience. Digital technology may rival it in resolution and instant playback but it cannot match the experience of having the final complete artwork on the wall in ninety seconds for all to see. The team of John Reuter, Nafis Azad and Ted McLelland has worked together for nearly ten years to provide access to this venerable technology. Together the three of them are working to produce the finished product that over a dozen people once accomplished at Polaroid. Azad and Reuter are also the film crew, operating cameras and lighting in New York, Miami and on location anywhere in the US.
    In addition there are cameras in San Francisco and Dusseldorf, Germany. To learn more about renting one of these cameras while the film lasts contact the 20×24 Studio at info@20x24studio.com.

Jennifer Trausch has been Director of Photography at the 20×24 Studio since 2003. In that time she has worked with dozens of artists, both in the studio and on location. No one knows the possibilities and limitations of the medium as well as Trausch. Known primarily as an indoor studio camera that uses high powered electronic strobes as its light source, the 20×24 camera is capable of location work. It requires a very large truck, substantial support equipment to protect and stabilize the machine outdoors, but more importantly an understanding of the camera’s capabilities and even more crucial understanding of the film’s response to rapidly changing light conditions. Trausch’s experience with the camera put her in a unique position to exploit the potential of ultra large format photography on location and minimize the disasters always awaiting the inexperienced. Leaving the powerful strobe lighting behind in the studio, Trausch instead exposed with available light, often requiring long exposures, even with the more sensitive Black and White Polaroid emulsion. One must work quickly and confidently to calculate the considerable bellows extension and stay on top of ever-changing light conditions. The technical tour de force alone makes this body of work noteworthy. More impressive are the relationships Trausch develops with her subjects, making connections that few photographers attempt to make.
Here are some of Trausch’s own words describing her project; “In my current body of work shot in the American South, I chose to put the 20×24 Polaroid Camera in active and unpredictable circumstances on the road. In doing this I am filtering out all of the traditional notions of 20×24 shooting, defining my own vision for it. Having operated the camera for seven years, I am very familiar with this handmade machine and understand how colors and light render on its film.  I am one of the few people who are not intimidated by its mass, the sheer physicality of shooting on it, and its cumbersome and awkward nature in the field. I have chosen to eschew structure in favor of a looser, more intuitive approach of finding my subject. I depict the subtle progression of a subject or environment over a long exposure. During these long exposures a subject may move, the light may change and embracing these details rather than avoiding them is how my own work differs from the typical approach to the medium.”

One of the more unique artists working with Polaroid 20×24 technology today is Ellen Carey. Ellen first began using the 20×24 in 1982 while it was housed at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. Ellen’s first work was a series of self portraits, lit with colored gels and later painted with enamel paint. These evolved into another series of self portraits made in New York that combined close up portraits lit with colored gels with intricate collages of black and white graphic images.
These multiple exposures blended the abstract and narrative in compelling complexity. In the 1990s Carey moved on to produce the series of “Pulls” and “Rollbacks”. Eliminating the figure altogether, Carey created these abstract images taking full advantage of the camera as a printmaking machine. Exploiting the roll film nature of the system, Carey produced pieces sometimes seven to ten feet in length by letting the camera run beyond its usual stopping point. At times, the positive would be cut away from the negative and “rolled back” into the camera for additional exposures and developing.

Click here to see more of Ellen’s work and excerpts from the essay “Ellen Carey, Matrix to Monumental”, by Ben Lifson.
Ellen Carey, 20×24 Pulls and Rollbacks, Part 1
Ellen Carey, 20×24 Pulls and Rollbacks, Part 2
You can see more of Ellen’s work at her website: Ellen Carey Photography

You can see more of Ben Lifson’s works and writings at: Ben Lifson

Ellen Carey, 20x24 Polaroid Pulls