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News & Insight

‘Photographs’ | Let An Old Lady & A Polaroid Camera Remind You How Powerful Photography Is

By Kishore Sawh on February 1st 2015


It never ceases to amaze me how animated films can tug at the heart strings, and extract your emotions with surgical precision. You show me someone who didn’t get all choked up in ‘The Lion King’, or ‘UP’ and I’ll show you someone without a pulse. Maybe it’s the way that everything can be exaggerated, from expressions to colors, all to reflect and enhance the mood at that point in the story, I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that the short animated film featured here will speak directly to you as a photographer, and generally as a person within the human condition. It’s called ‘Photographs’ and it’s not new. Created as an undergraduate animation project in 2010 by Brendan Clogher and Christina Manrique, it depicts an old lady rummaging through a garbage dump who comes upon a discarded old Polaroid camera. She takes it, and we follow her through empty locations as she takes pictures with what seem like total frivolity and randomness, but learn it’s not the case at all.


I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s all about her recalling memories from her past, and it’s just so poignant how it cuts through the fat and speaks to the really basic role of photography: to preserve a moment in time – to preserve a memory. It’s so perfectly done, too, that it may remind you of your first fascination with a camera; when it wasn’t about depth of field, and it wasn’t about resolution, or the price of the camera, but about noticing something worthwhile in front of you, and wanting to capture the details of the moment to reflect on later.

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In a way, the film itself is animated in a fashion that seems almost metaphorical of instant photography – it’s simple, small, devoid of distractions, with the focus entirely on the subject. There’s no fuss, no distracting optical wizardry, just the story. This was, I believe, much more the case with photography on a whole before the digital camera revolution. With fewer options for image manipulation, there seemed to be more of an innocence, and more of a focus on creating a story to be preserved, unlike the disposable images of today. I think we would all do well to hark back to that time and take a leaf from it, as it does make you wonder if going backwards is sometimes the way to make progress.

To some extent, instant photography still carries with it the same merit, and also simpler fixed focal length cameras like the Fuji X100T or the Sony RX1, and this film makes me want to reach right past my DSLRs for one of those right now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and apologies for the typos, it’s hard to see with glassy eyes.

Source: DigitalRev, images are screen caps from featured video

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar


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  3. Kevin Nguyen

    Very nice but a bit sad :(

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  4. Tosh Cuellar

    very cool

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  5. Peter Nord

    Sent this to my students with a note that photography is not about the f stop or shutter speed.

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  6. Herm Tjioe

    There’s too much dust in the room . . . .

    Sharing this for Valentine

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  7. John Cavan

    That was extremely well done and quite moving really. They captured it wonderfully.

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    This was awesome! It inspired me. Thank you

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  9. Orlin Nikolov

    :) Cute

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