INSTANT MEMORIES: Polaroid exhibit will offer results of Studio Space Junk challenge

INSTANT MEMORIES: Polaroid exhibit will offer results of Studio Space Junk challenge

August 18th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment


* What: Polaroid Art Show.

* When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30; 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31.

* Where: Studio Space Junk, 436 Frazier Ave.

* Admission: Free (corkscrew, bottle opener and cups provide for those who want to bring their own beverages).

* Phone: 531-6066.

* Website:

So you can take 113 photos of the view from the top of the Empire State Building with your digital camera, but there's no permanent image to hold in your hand as you ride down 102 stories - and staring into the camera's tiny screen for that long would be weird.

Consider your old friend, the Polaroid camera, though. As soon as you've taken time to get the frame just right and pressed the button, an image comes to life before your eyes and becomes a permanent keepsake of your trip to New York.

Diana Edwards, 32, owner of Studio Space Junk on Frazier Avenue, is just such a Polaroid aficionado. The difference between a Polaroid photo and a digital photo, she says, is like the difference between enjoying the moment and taking a picture of the moment.

With a Polaroid, she says, "I'm going to think 'I'm not going to capture everything' and instead decide if "this a moment to capture a picture."

"Kind of in an oddball sense, I'm OK in waiting for the results," Edwards says, "in being patient, in being disappointed" if the results are not perfect, but knowing that since "it's the only picture I have, it means a lot to me."

Polaroid fans who understand where she's coming from may want to enter the studio's first amateur Polaroid Art Show, in conjunction with Studio Space Junk's first anniversary, set for Aug. 30-31.

There is no entry fee, no judging of entries and no winners. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Workshops are available for a modest cost for those who want to enhance their skill. Questions are free. The entries can be traditional, manipulated, on canvas or free hanging, such as a photo album or made into a lamp shade, Edwards says.

It's whatever "you come up with," she says.

"Polaroids from the outset," she says, "were marketed as the camera everybody can use. So I thought we'd do an art show that anybody can be in. None of it would be for sale. If you always thought it would be cool to be in an art show but thought you never [would], here's your opportunity."

The only stipulation is that film must be purchased at Studio Space Junk. The deadline for entry is Friday at 6 p.m.

John Somerville, 25, of Chattanooga, who has purchased film at Studio Space Junk, says he likes the color of the Polaroid prints and the uncertainty -- even surprise -- at how the shots might turn out.

"It's instant and tangible," he says. "It's becoming more and more important to me to have something tangible like a [photo] print or a Polaroid or whatever."

The creative aspect of using a Polaroid "definitely challenges you to think things through, to make sure everything is showing up in the view finder, to be sure the lighting is right," Edwards says.

Instant cameras, the most popular of which were made by Polaroid, gained popularity in the mid-1960s. By the early 2000s, though, sales of point-and-shoot, 35-mm cameras and phone cameras dramatically reduced the interest in Polaroids. Indeed, in 2008, Polaroid announced it would discontinue production of the cameras.

So while the company still sells digital cameras, tablets and various other items, it sells only refurbished instant cameras.

Studio Space Junk also sells accessories and two kinds of film for the old cameras, much of it ordered from the Impossible Project, which bought the last factory in the world manufacturing Polaroid instant film in 2008.

"For me, personally," says Edwards, "it was one of those things where I grew up when Polaroids were available. Then they became unavailable, and that was a disappointing thing. When they became available again, I wanted to get my hands on one. You can't buy them in Walmart."

She says she used one as early as junior high, when the film was easier to get and cheaper to buy. "I used it a lot. I'd go through a lot of pictures, even things like my stuffed animals."

Edwards acknowledges the dissers who say the depth of field isn't there in Polaroid photos and the colors can be off, but she says many people love the old instant cameras for just those reasons.

"They like the weird color saturation, the sort of dream state [of the photo], the imperfections that might be [from the instant development]," she says.

Yet, Edwards says she loves the "simple fact" you "can have a physical copy pretty instantly, hand it to someone or put it on your wall. And also the challenge: I have this many pictures" in a Polaroid film pack. "I like trying to be artsy, so I have to try to frame it, to do everything in one shot."

That's fun, she says, "compared to how now everybody as iPhones and digital cameras."

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts online at