Mobile Polaroid Book

This project, in part, documents my relationship with my partner and the places I have lived in and cities I have travelled to as seen through the lens of the camera phone I used from 2009 to 2015. Dreamlike or abstract, the images skew any attempt at linear storytelling.

Presented like Polaroids in a book (edition of one), the images are in fact a collection of digital images taken with my mobile phone. Originally posted to social media platforms, I have since removed and reworked them to appear like analogue Polaroids as an act of reclamation.

Before the advent of digital photography, the Polaroid was hugely successful (and profitable) worldwide. It was a popular form of photography that was made using instant film in an instant camera. Each photograph gave its user a unique analogue image/object.

Today the Polaroid has been overtaken by digital technology and new companies. Now, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook use computer simulation so that users of smartphones are able to create virtual Polaroid simulations that can be shared online.

A computer simulation is an attempt to model a real-life or hypothetical situation on a computer so that it can be studied by companies to see how the system works. By changing variables in the simulation, predictions may be made about the behaviour of the system. It is a tool to virtually investigate the behaviour of the system under study. It can also be used to study the behaviour of the users of the system. [J. Banks, J. Carson, B. Nelson, D. Nicol (2001). Discrete-Event System Simulation. Prentice Hall. p. 3. ISBN 0-13-088702-1.]

By creating a computer simulation of a modern day Polaroid, the company can study how the customer uses their smartphone and what they do with it. Each image posted on their platform is essentially data which they can monetise, making profit in ways the Polaroid company never could. In short, they are giving you a platform that is seemingly free, but is ultimately paid for by the user through the data you voluntarily provide them with.

By removing my photos from social media and placing the reworked images in a new context (a single offline book), I am making an attempt to reclaim my photographs by using the Polaroid as a conceptual frame of reference to create a single unique object.

I would like to thank the late Colin Jarvie to whom this project is a tribute. His project ‘My World, My Wife, My Camera‘ (2003) was influential to me as a student of photography. As a tutor at London College of Printing and then London College of Communication, Colin influenced the way in which I took photographs and I wouldn’t have made this project if it wasn’t for him. Colin was an inspiration to me and many of his students, he is missed.


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Photography, Projects

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