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.

andromeda 7In 2013 artist Jeff Enlow approached the 20×24 Studio with the idea to expand his project “Parallelograms” to the 20×24 format. Jeff had been working for some time in 4×5 format and dreamed of scaling it up to the pinnacle of the large format instant experience. After a half day test session to be sure it would work Jeff embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to fund further shooting sessions. This was the first Kickstarter we know of to underwrite a 20×24 project and the response was enthusiastic. With the Kickstarter proceeds Jeff was able to fund several more sessions, completing his vision for the Parallelograms series with a flourish.

ParallelogramsParallelogramsParallelogramsParallelogramsParallelograms

 

Behind the scenes photos by Bryan Derballa.

Jeff writes of his experiences with the 20×24:

I first discovered the 20×24 as a young student flipping through an American Photo Magazine. There was a small feature on the camera at Sundance. I remember being amazed by the size and weight of the camera. I always loved instant film but this was something else all together. At that time in my life using the 20×24 camera was well beyond my means or skill level. I stored the idea in the back of my mind till I had a project that called for the camera.

When I first conceived of Parallelograms, central to the project was that the images had to feel physical. I wanted to make an image that felt more like making a painting. There is a certain draw to seeing an original one of a kind painting in a museum or gallery that I felt is lacking in photography. Shooting on instant film became the bridge between those two mediums.

Visually, Parallelograms is a study of the topography of the human body. Multiple exposures allow the eye to wander in and out of the intersecting and diverging hills and valleys of the human figure. The unexpected shapes that are revealed in the merging of the two exposures is a wholly new creation—a sacred third entity—that exists in no other plane but on that single instant film sheet.

I start with a general sketch of an image in my head and first shoot it on 4×5 Fuji pack film.  I collaborate with the model and decide the basic structure and flow I am looking for. From there, there are lots of micro adjustments like “drop your chin down, pull this arm back, hide that piece of hair;” I shoot one exposure, then we reset and do it all again. I mark on the ground glass the outline of the first image; so that when we shoot the second image I can try and guide it to flow well.  I can steer the image in the direction I want, but the final print has a gestalt that is beyond omniscience.

There is a bit of translation that happens between shooting on the 4×5 and the 20×24. Using a medium as big as the 20×24 I had to rethink my relationship with both the model and the camera. I couldn’t just show up and reshoot my existing 4×5 images. I have a greater level of flexibility in the smaller 4×5 camera. I can push the camera into different positions and angles that aren’t possible when you are working with a camera a 1000 times larger.

Despite having this massive impedance between the model and myself I was able to achieve an intimacy on the 20x24s that I hadn’t reached before. The intense detail captured transforms the photos into truly rich character studies. It takes a lot of bravery for a model to stand nude in front of the camera. There is little you can hide from a 20×24 Polaroid, every freckle, blemish, and hair is exposed and enlarged.

Using the 20×24 forced me to dramatically slow down. Because of the size and complexity of the camera, along with the rarity and cost of film I only shot 10 – 12 images in a day. This makes little room for error, but also makes for an interesting and nuanced edit of the images. Additional versions of the same image are presented next to one another to highlight the subtle shifts that happen while shooting.

Working with the 20×24 Polaroid creates a craftsmanship to each image that elevates the photo beyond just the culmination of pigments in emulsion. Like brushstrokes on a canvas, subtle details reveal the hidden history of each image. The temperature and humidity in the room, the age of the film and camera, the motion of how the emulsion is pulled—all these elements combine to make a final image that has a visual language and personality unique to itself.

In 1986 Neal Slavin published Britons, and extraordinary collection of 20×24 Polaroid photographs executed over an eight year period in the UK. Anyone who has ever seen a 20×24 Polaroid camera in action will marvel at the technical tour de force this body of work embodies. Add to that Slavin’s ability to orchestrate and inspire his subjects results in truly remarkable documents of a myriad of social constructs.

 

Foreword for The Britons
by Colin Ford,  Keeper, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television

I have been an admirer of Neal Slavin since I first saw his book When Two Or More Are Gathered Together,
published in the USA in 1976. It consists of sixty or so multiple portraits which demonstrate colourfully,
revealingly and entertainingly that many human beings seem to feel the need to congregate in groups, at
work and at play. Do we feel safer that way? Do we believe our personalities and identities are more
recognisable? Or do we just enjoy being with like-minded people? Whatever the answer, the Americans in
Slavin’s photographs seemed so to blossom before his camera that I knew he should be asked to exercise
his considerable skills in Britain.

What were those skills? A scrutiny of his pictures revealed a mastery of composition and colour (it was
almost impossible to imagine them in black and white). But, more importantly, the photographer clearly
had a way of making each photographic sitting an occasion: his sitters were all giving performances — and
all having a wonderful time. He was, equally obviously, the possessor of a well-developed — and warm —
sense of humour. The pictures were funny: the laughter came, not from the silliness of the antics, but
from the participants’ overt pleasure in dramatizing themselves, and in acting out their quirkiness for the
photographer.

It has taken eight years of voluble persuasion, intricate planning and costly expenditure to bring the
project to its triumphant conclusion. If I say that I believe Slavin’s Britons have fared even better than his
Americans, it is not jingoism, nor merely the pleasure of having been so personally involved, nor pride
that this magnificent assemblage is yet another feather in the cap of the National Museum of Photography,
Film & Television. It derives mainly, I think, from the inspired decision to use only the giant Polaroid
camera.

The Polaroid 20″ x 24″ Instant Land Camera is a formidable beast, calling for a team of handlers to
transport it, feed it, keep it in good temper and bed it down for the night. When you face the brute in
order to be photographed, however, you know without doubt that you are participating in an event larger
than life: everyone in the pictures stretches nerve and sinew to give of their best, and such superhuman
efforts are rewarded by the pure magic of that moment when the huge print is peeled off, seconds after
exposure. I have never seen anyone fail to be astonished — even moved — by the quality, the rich color,
and the sheer impact of the result. And the magic is even more powerful for those who are aware of the
weeks of organization, letter-writing, telephoning, map-reading and arm-twisting which have preceded
that moment of what is often supposed to be ‘instant’ photography.
On the walls of the Museum, and in the pages of this book, the magic is still there. Our sincerest
thanks to everyone who made it possible — and especially to Neal Slavin. It was well worth waiting eight
years for!

All images © Neal Slavin 2013

Channel Swimmers

Bickley Dancers

Lord & Lady Brookeborough

7th Day Adventists

Colony Room

Elephant Keepers

Camera Club

Debutantes

First Communicants

Great Danes Breeders Association

Lubavitcher

Marina Women’s Bowls

Norlands Nannies

WLHB

Snooker

Chuck Close

Lucas Samaras

John Reuter

Andy Warhol

Ellen Carey

Andre Kertesz

Filled with images from a trove of artists from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol, this is the first volume to explore the Polaroid camera’s indelible influence on the history of photography. From its inception in 1947, the Polaroid system inspired artists to experiment–to dazzling effect–with the cameras’ unique technologies. Edwin Land, the inventor of the first Polaroid instant camera, remarked on his discovery, “Photography will never be the same.” And he was right. This fascinating journey through the Polaroid era documents the evolution of instant photography. Hundreds of color images celebrate the myriad ways Polaroid photographs have been used and ingeniously manipulated by Walker Evans, David Hockney, Barbara Kasten, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucas Samaras, and others. The book features essays addressing the unique technology of instant photography and the marketing genius of the Polaroid Corporation. Artist statements from Ellen Carey, Chuck Close, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Bryan Graf, Miranda Lichtenstein, David Levinthal, Joy Neimanas, Lisa Oppenheim, Catherine Opie, John Reuter, William Wegman, and James Welling reveal how Polaroids affected and, in many instances, forever changed the way they captured the world around them.

MARY-KAY LOMBINO is the Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She has curated several exhibitions including Off the Shelf: New Forms in Contemporary Artists’ Books and Utopian Mirage: Social Metaphors in Contemporary Photography.
See the review in the New York Times.

 

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders has worked with the 20×24 camera since 1986. In those years he used the 20×24 for campaigns for Barney’s, Tommy Hilfiger, on the set Steven Speilberg’s “Hook”, portraits of Presidents and First Ladies, and countless classic images of art world, cinema, and literary celebrities. We were particularly excited to have him agree to photograph at the  We Are Family Foundation Celebration Gala 2.0 held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on January 31st, 2013. The We Are Family Foundation, founded by Nile Rodgers is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a global family by supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation. Their mission is to celebrate the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate people about mutual respect, understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity. The evening was hosted by actress Rosie Perez and Touré, co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” and included a concert featuring Adam Lambert, Nile Rodgers & CHIC and special guests, Taylor Dayne, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Kathy Sledge, Sam Sparro, and Russell Peters. Honorees of the Gala were Adam Lambert, the Unity Honoree, Jeni Stepanek , the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Honoree, and Daniel Stern, the Visionary Honoree.

Adam Lambert poses for the 20x24 camera

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders poses Adam

Adam Lambert

Adam holds his 20x24 for the photographers

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Adam Lambert

Jeni Stepanek

Timothy poses Grandmaster Melle Mel

Grandmaster Melle Mel

Grandmaster Caz

Grandmasters Melle Mel and Caz

Adam Lambert, Nile Rodgers, and Russell Peters

Russell Peters

Touré

Justin Tryon

Rosie Perez