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.
Polaroid’s 20×24 cameras, built in the late 1970s and named for the dimensions of their snapshots — 20 by 24 inches, are the largest living Polaroid cameras in the world. (There was once an even bigger one with 40×80 snapshots but the film has run out.) Five of these 20×24 cameras still exist, and one resides in New York City’s 20×24 Studio. The Studio’s director, artist John Reuter, demonstrates the 235-pound camera, and Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid, explains how this camera fits into Polaroid’s history.
The 20×24 Studio is offering significant savings on portrait sessions for the holiday season. There is no better time to bring the family in and create a unique document to cherish. The legendary 20×24 camera produces beautiful analog images that are one of a kind. The ultra large negative produces stunning detail and the peel apart instant film process creates subtle tonal transitions that are unparalleled. It is the ultimate portrait medium to document those who are special to you. So bring your family, your kids, your pets and your friends to the 20×24 Studio to take advantage of this special offer. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 201-892-5629 to find out more.
On June 26, 2012, the We Are Family Foundation hosted “Night of Originals” with legendary photographer/filmmaker Bruce Weber and musician/producer and founder of We Are Family Foundation, Nile Rodgers, at the Norwood Club in New York.
An intimate gathering of guests enjoyed a private dinner with Weber and Rodgers that was followed by a black and white portrait sitting with Weber using one of only five 20×24 large format Polaroid© Land cameras in existence and one of the last remaining rolls of large format Polaroid© film – all owned by 20×24 Studio. Each image is a one-of-a-kind – there are no negatives. Weber carefully crafted every image and brilliantly told a story with each one. One of the many highlights of the evening was Valerie Simpson (Ashford & Simpson) and her two daughters, Asia and Nicole, singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as Weber shot their portrait. This was the first time the family has been photographed together since Nick Ashford’s passing last year. As guests were waiting to have their portraits taken Rodgers performed a one-man show sharing stories about his life, music and the New York underground during the 70s and 80s – as depicted in his critically acclaimed best-selling autobiography, “Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny”.
Proceeds from Night of Originals benefitted the We Are Family Foundation and its signature Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader program that identifies and mentors teen leaders who are actively promoting peace through their work addressing basic human needs worldwide.
Bruce Weber, born in rural Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1946, became the preeminent photographer of the fashion industry in the 1980s and continues to be one of the world’s most popular and influential photographers. Weber initially pursued theater at Denison University in Ohio, then turned to filmmaking at New York University. Thanks to Diane Arhus, he was introduced to and studied with Lisette Model at The New School for Social Research in the 1960s. He participated in his first group show at The Floating Foundation of
One of my former interns asked me to write a few lines on why I feel analog instant is still powerful in our digital world. I thought I would share it with you.
Analog Instant in a Digital World
When the instant 20×24 format was created in 1976, it was a different world in photography. Fine art photography was still dominated by black and white, even though color was beginning to gain acceptance. Print sizes rarely exceeded 16×20 inches with 11×14 more the norm. Along comes this gargantuan machine containing its own processor that delivered 20×24 inch Polacolor images in 75 seconds. The quality was astounding, as the negative was the same size as the final print and there was no optical enlargement. There was lushness to the somewhat limited color palette and the diffusion transfer process rendered skin tones like Renaissance glaze painting. It was truly a remarkable process.
Fast forward thirty-five plus years and the photographic landscape has radically changed. Digital technologies grew in quality at a pace no one predicted and analog film lost favor first with the consumer market and eventually the professional market. The fine art market still holds on with established and even young artists embracing the attributes of analog. Contemporary professional DSLR cameras are capable of capturing a dynamic range that rivals medium and large format analog systems. Advances in the Camera Raw format and sophisticated image editors such as Lightroom and Aperture allow the photographer advantages in processing only the finest analog practitioners could achieve.
Still, the 20×24 instant format endures and is revered for all of its original attributes. It is also revered because it is not digital. All large format photography separates itself from digital in many ways; the size of the camera often means it is on a stationary tripod. Viewing the image is completely different, as one must view the image upside down on a ground glass and compose by shifting, rising, swinging and tilting the lens and film standards. As the composition is finalized, the lens is closed and a film holder inserted to take a singular image. A digital photographer could take a hundred different variations of the image while the large format photographer makes one. It is that discipline that separates these two photographic methodologies.
The 20×24 falls into its own category. Because of the size and complexity of the camera itself and the attending lighting system, it is run by a crew of at least two, with the photographer taking the role of director. It is a collaborative process, in some ways similar to film making but also to print making, as the final result will exit the camera in a matter of minutes. There is no post processing; all decisions of exposure, filtration, and processing time are decided on the spot. As the image is peeled and placed on the wall for viewing, everyone involved from the subject, photographer and crew is obviously aware of what has been achieved. While digital setups can show the image immediately on a large high-resolution monitor, it is not the same experience as experiencing the final print. The digital photographer will continue to shoot, perhaps long after they have achieved the best image, because it is simply easy to do so. With 20×24, because of its expense and deliberate approach, the photographer will recognize the best image, often with the input of their subject. While many photographers prefer this large format analog print as the end product, digital technology now allows for scanning to create stunning enlargements or editions from the analog original. This allows artists to expand their markets in ways that painters did in the 19th Century as printmaking became very popular.
Why not fake it, you might ask? A highly skilled digital artist could take a high-resolution digital capture from an 80mp digital back and try to simulate the optical characteristics of large format lenses, they could ramp back the color to simulate the more limited palette of color instant films, they could scan the unique edge marks that 20×24 cameras produce, they could hope to but never achieve the depth of a diffusion transfer print. They could do all these things, and perhaps fool a great many people. So can art forgers simulate a DaVinci or Picasso, and again one could fool a great many people and even experts for a time. Inevitably it comes down to authenticity and a 20×24 instant photograph is the epitome of authenticity.
20x24 Studio West