Tag Archives: photoworkssf

Protection Film

“I’ll stand in front of you, I’ll take the force of the blow. Protection”

I wonder if Dave Bias and the chemists at The Impossible Project had this Massive Attack lyric in their heads all these years? For those of you immersed in the Polaroid subculture the announcement of a new stable, easy to use film is a big deal, if you do not care you should still read this, because you might get interested.  You see, since the death of Polaroid as we know, the company known as Impossible has been hard at work resurrecting the old factory, but they have fallen just short of solving the problem of light sensitivity. In short, using the film is a science project of sorts. Some of us are up for it, but many are not. Impossible has used some brilliant marketing skills to convince the desperate loyalists that this partially defective product is valid because the flaws make unpredictable photo art. They do have a point, and they have been able to ride this horse all around the world. I have been on that horse the whole time.  Now comes the big news…….THEY HAVE FIXED THE PROBLEM!  Now, you push the button and the photo pops out. Instant photography….what a concept.  Here is the official geek version lowdown:

“Thanks to an innovative color protection formula that greatly improves the opacification process – Color Protection Film finally allows for easy shooting without the need for immediate shielding of the photos. It also delivers a never-before-seen color saturation, a completely new level of detail and sharpness and overall stunning image quality. It’s finally bringing back the unique iconic performance and look of the most successful classic Polaroid films”

You mean I don’t need to carry around a lead bag and sunglasses to take pictures?  Seriously, wow, no more having to give my customers a twenty minute briefing on why Granny’s SX-70 camera ain’t what it used to be?  The flea market vendors are back in business because we can sell you film for your vintage cameras again, and this time around we can sell it with authority.  I applaud the folks at Impossible, especially the genius that cracked the chemical code. So one more time:

“This girl I know needs some shelter, she don’t believe anyone can help her, she’s doing so much harm, doing so much damage. But you don’t want to get involved, you tell her she can manage. And you can’t change the way she feels, but you can put your arms around her.”


With the new Protection Film this will actually be a barn.

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I need a Parklet, Artwalk, a Food Truck, and a Meetup Stat!

Tomorrow night from 7-10 we are having an art opening at Photoworks.  We will be featuring work as seen in our latest Zine Photoworks 6.  Most of the photographers will be present.  There will be the usual red and white beverages served along with some simple Trader Joe’s snack fare, and maybe a homemade dish or two as well.  And That’s All Folks!  I am hoping that some of the 169 people I invited on Facebook will make it.  Currently the number stands at 33, but I am confident that the event will be a success despite the fact that we sit on an undefined stretch of Market St. that no one perceives as a destination.  If I named the area at Market and Church ( called it Murch maybe) would that make us cool?  Maybe a DJ blaring electronica would entice people to come and see these photos.  I guess there are many options on a Friday night in this town,

by Paige Campbell Linden

and we do not have a Ritual Coffee Roaster embedded in the lobby.  Actually, we don’t really even have a lobby.  How do I get one of those outdoor bike rack cafe thingies with a dumpster full of succulents?  Then when the crowd swells people can spill over to the photoworks promenade.

Lastly, how does one spread the word?  Of my 2000 Twitter followers, I think 1500 live in Alaska.  Someone tell my story in The Fecal Italic, or tumble me, foursquare my shit G.  I want to be in the Best Of The Best Of The Best.   Alas, we will proceed with humility and sans fanfare, and just say COME TO THE SHOW THE PHOTOS ARE GREAT.


2077a Market St at Church  (murch)    PS, I just found out we are going to have mood lighting…


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Honey Have You Seen My Polaroid Camera?

“Honey, Have you seen my old Polaroid camera?”

“Yeah, I gave it to Goodwill along with your vinyl records because I heard they stopped making the film.”

“You did what????”

If you don’t own a Polaroid camera, you probably know someone who does.  Most likely a parent, or grandparent, or cousin. Where are these cameras now?  Probably in a closet, or trunk, or buried in a heap up in the attic. Or, you might find one for $4.00 at a flea market.   No respect, considering what Popular Photography Magazine said many years ago, ” Like television, Polaroid photography is one of those processes that permits technically unsophisticated mortals to perform technological miracles.”  And so this is how these instant cameras were marketed, sold at Kmart and at the drugstore as an easy way around complicated photography.  They were sold door to door, and on TV, and everyone had at least one.  When my Father passed away, I found a Land Camera and two pristine SX 70’s up on a shelf next to a shoe box containing a Colt 45 pistol…

Then we had the era of Warhol and Mapplethorpe, and suddenly things changed as the artists discovered the inherent beauty of this once thought of utilitarian device.  Fast forward to the digital era and all those “unsophisticated mortals” now have a new way to capture an image instantly, and so Polaroid dies an ugly death, leaving the old school artist’s in the dust.  ( sorry for the drama)

Enter the Impossible Project, a group of visionaries on a quest to resurrect Polaroid film.  Well, they have done it, but apparently not to perfection.  You see there are a few secrets of science that lay buried in the ruble, thus we have to wrestle a bit it with these new films.  Which brings me to the point of this post. PHOTOWORKS IS HAVING A CLASS ON HOW TO USE THE NEW IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT FILMS!  Here are a few photos that show why a class and some simple tutoring will make using the new films more enjoyable.

oops, I didn’t know that you had to shield this from light, looks cool, but I might try again.

okay, that’s getting the hang of it.

by James de Leon ( what you will learn how to do in this class)

So all of you Polaroid shooters dig out that old camera, and come on down to photoworks on April 22nd to see first hand what all the fuss is about surrounding the new era of Polaroid. http://www.facebook.com/events/320455021347683/

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Holiday Greetings From Hannah

Hey everybody, this is Hannah, that clerk from the counter-

I’m doing a guest blog post as dh has been drowning in pesky responsibilities.

I’m not as witty as he is, but I’ll do my best here.


Of course the theme of this particular post is the holidays, though I myself don’t feel like they’re really here again. I’m remembering last December- sitting at the crappy end of a huge table in a garage behind my grandparent’s house with 30 drunk and boisterous family members, I believe I ended up taking my dessert to go and falling asleep early in my old bedroom. It was a very low point of my 20th year (yes, I’m really young).


In any case, it is with the most grateful of spirits that I have thrown myself into the holiday season at Photoworks. As much as the twentieth customer in ten minutes asking me to rush their prints makes me want to chuck the computer over the counter, I love it here. I realize that there are many people that have worked at photo labs before, and some people are completely over it, sick of it, whatever, but I’m the happiest I’ve been in two years.

dh was suspicious when he first hired me this summer; he gave me a quiz on film types and I probably scraped a C- at best. He went on the word of our dear clerk J, the cheerful-beyond-belief type, who I’ve been a friend of for some time, and by some miracle I landed a great job.

I showed up on my first day of work with a tiny alphabetized notebook of film types and their different merits, and proceeded to nerd my way to a nice comfortable position at the shop, and I still learn something new most days. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly thank dh for taking a chance on me, but hey, maybe I can at least inspire a little holiday cheer with the notion of a very happy employee. Who ever heard of that?


As far as the rest of the staff goes, who can say how they feel (though I could sing my praises for our other brown-haired girl at the counter, who is a genuine lady of ladies). All I know is I’m happy as a clam, and compared to last Christmas, working overtime to fill online orders is no bother for me at all. Not to mention the fun new merchandising I’m working on with the Impossible films (we are a partner store now!) and our hero Kile Brekke who has been refurbishing the Polaroid Land Cameras dh finds here and there- which we are actually selling! It’s so inspiring to see something I’m sure most of us thought was a goner become a Christmas present again.

I hope my positivity isn’t making anyone sick; I can just imagine the majority of our staff reading this and thinking I’m crazy, or an ass-kisser, but I’m just genuinely pleased to finally be happy to go to work.

The Intrepid Photo Clerk. photo by Jim Safka


Happy Holidays,


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The Impossible Photo Lab

By now all of you photographers and most of you non photographers are aware of the demise of Polaroid.  It’s over but like all great things analog, you cannot kill the spirit.  Enter The Impossible Project, a small group of people who claimed the remains of the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands, and without much of a recipe have invented a new line of instant films.  The word “impossible” is no understatement, as the technical hurdles rival sending people into space.  By some miracle we now have a full line of new instant films to play with, but they are tricky to work with, kind of like a soup that must be cooked in exactly the right way.  The folks at IP have come up with a few accessories and tricks of the trade that must be applied in order to make the new films work.  So it’s  like a science project of sorts but the results are gratifying and I am willing to work to make some instant film magic.  Photoworks has been offered the new line of films to sell in our store and we are thrilled to be a part of the instant film resurrection.

I feel some kinship with the Impossible folks because for years I struggled to maintain old film printing equipment.  Our lab used to be all Agfa analog printing machines, the look of the prints from those machines helped put our shop on the map.  One day without warning, Agfa went under, and we were stuck with a bunch of old printers and no support.  I hired technicians to keep the machines going, but over the years parts vanished and eventually I gave up. Like every other photo lab, we bought new equipment.  We still print from negatives but not before they are scanned first.  You still see film grain, but it’s just not quite the same thing.  Over the years we have struggled to maintain our analog identity, but it is not easy, and on some days it feels “impossible.”

It’s amazing that something so commonplace as Polaroid would be such advanced science, and that once extinct would be so hard to replicate.  The Impossible Project has not only brought instant films back, they have expanded the line into all kinds of fun directions.  This week Photoworks will be receiving our first shipment of Impossible Project instant films.  We’ll be the only place in town to carry PX 600 Silver Shade with the Black Frame.  Very cool, very analog, suddenly everything seems possible again.

In stock and ready to rock

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Your Photography is Too Serious for This Cool Cafe

My friend and good customer V just had her photo show removed from this so called “we do everything the right way” coffee place in San Francisco’s most bitchen neighborhood.  The works, innocuous elements of an apartment, basically muted color photos of furniture was deemed “too intense for people trying to escape into a cup of coffee.”   The problem it seems was the artist’s statement which was interpreted by someone to be about “loss, attachment, family, and death,” are concepts too heavy to process with a $4.00 cup of something called single origin espresso.  Someone wearing a black beanie in 90 degree weather must have looked up from their laptop long enough to be traumatized. So I guess the mass produced shots of sepia toned coffee beans found at Starbucks would be more appropriate or as the owner wrote, ” the art that belongs in a cafe is fluffier stuff and should not make people think about the tough questions in life:  pictures of telephone poles, birds sitting on wires, tapestries of heavy metal lyrics, whimsical stuff.”  So like a nice, soothing  Metallica Macrome?

There are too many hypocrisies and ironies to point out here.  I actually believe that the clientele of this coffee house would appreciate something thought provoking, these are not stupid suburbanites, but serious  people that think about stuff for a living.  Hmmmm, makes me wonder if the cafe wants to expand it’s customer base to the non-thinking coffee drinkers?

The big problem is that the cafe agreed to show the work, the artist made a huge financial and personal investment, and she has now been shown the door because of a photo of ……….a door.  I hate to rat on any local business but this cafe, a  self proclaimed organic mecca has shown it’s true colors by removing this photography.  A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community.

They might want to change the name to……….you fill in the blanks.

Here is the actual work:  http://vareservoir.com/making-room-up-now–

this one gave me nightmares?

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If You Love Her, Get Her A Camera

Been looking at the new Nikon 7000/ million, some camera huh?  Looks like you can shoot in deep space with that thing.  Despite my passion for film, you’d have to be nuts not to want a camera like this.  My birthday is in May.

Need to get my betrothed something for V Day, and would like to avoid a Hallmark moment.  I found this amazing camera here.

The Lady Carefree, which I believe used to be available on makeup counters in your finer department stores.  An unfortunate name for a camera especially if you’re a dude or a feminist…  So I will present this little gift today and see what happens.  She will probably ask for the iphone 4, but this is better because it comes with a rose.

above from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32214524@N00/1806297604

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What Happens In The Darkroom Stays In The Darkroom

I miss the darkroom.  Some great images were made by some talented photo printers.  In the heyday of Photoworks we had as many as eight darkrooms, color and black and white.  The smell of fixer permeated the building as contact sheets and hand printed enlargements were produced behind closed doors.  This was a fruitful time in the lab, and there was more in the air aside from chemicals .  That’s right, romance was alive and well in the analog world.   So here’s another reason to like film….the darkroom illuminated by only a red safety light is conducive to lovin’, whereas your Mac is well, why do you think they call it a laptop?

People always seem to hookup at work, and this company has spawned many relationships.   One day I got a wedding invitation in the mail from two of my staff, both darkroom printers.  I didn’t even know they were a couple.  I asked them where they met, and smiling coyly they said, “in the darkroom.”  I designed the darkrooms so that as many as three printers could occupy one room, but I did not envision the other “possibilities.”  In the movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen trying to create the perfect mood, adds a red light bulb to his bedside lamp telling Annie, “now we can go about our business and develop photographs at the same time.”  On the other side of the coin we’ve had our fair share of dramas play out in the darkroom as well.  I almost had to break down the door once to break up a fight as the sound of broken beakers could be heard from the street.

Then we have the home darkroom, which is intended for a completely different purpose, a place where my Dad would hide out from my Mother.  He had a little mini bar and shot glass on the shelf by the photoflow.  So, as usual I am nostalgic for the old days….. developer, fixer, photoflow, and perfume.  We still have one darkroom left at Photoworks which we use to process film.  The walls are painted black like some old rock and roll nightclub, and the graffiti on the wall says, “I’ll dodge if you burn.”

Need I say more.

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Kodachrome, Get Over It………

I thought it would be nice to ring in the new year with a bit of sarcasm , so here goes.  The current big topic in the photography world is the  demise of Kodachrome film.  The last processing option ( a mail order lab in Kansas) eliminated it’s kodachrome service as of 12/31/2010.  Is it the end of an era?  Well actually it’s been over for quite some time.  At best, it’s been tough to find the stuff, and with only one option for processing, Kodachrome has been dying a slow death for years.  Kinda reminds me of qualudes in the 70’s.  Looks great, feels great, makes me think of being all warm and fuzzy.

In the last month  friends have forwarded me all of the “woe is me” articles from photo mags and even the New York Times.  People I have not seen in years are writing me on Facebook about this tragedy.  I like to think about the last few photographers shooting that “final” roll.  Steve McCurry of National Geographic apparently shot the last roll, and his final 36 will go to some Kodak museum for permanent display.  Man, I hope they have armed guards protecting the slides because I know some photo geeks that might risk their lives to have those slides.  Not to mention the pressure on old Steve, what if he overexposes or doesn’t take the lens cap off?

So, the mourning has begun.  Well I say it’s time to move on people.  You still have Velvia and Extachrome.  Don’t get me wrong, I am the king of the digital dart board, and if Kodak starts taking away other films then I will take to the streets, start a riot and burn down the Ritz Camera store.

Kodachrome films have made for some of our most memorable and treasured images, and the nostalgia factor looms large.  I miss my Dad, but I’m grateful for the boxes and boxes of  slides that he left behind.  Maybe some day, someone will figure out how to bring back Kodachrome, like they did with Polaroid.  Yes, a naive notion to be sure.  So let’s put those slides somewhere safe, and keep a fresh bulb in your projector.  It’s only over if you let it be over.

Happy 2011.


“makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah.”

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I Shoot Film Because It Doesn’t Shoot Back

I was browsing through Flickr and I came across this cool photographer, http://www.rhettredelings.com   In his bio he writes, “I shoot film because it doesn’t shoot back.”   I don’t know if the phrase inspired me or if I’m pleased to see another bald guy with a film camera.  Nonetheless, I wish to expand on Rhetts’ notion.  I will try and avoid quoting from the ” I hate digital handbook.”  I’m a photographer who doesn’t want to know.  I’d rather find out later if what I shoot is worth a damn.  The immediacy of digital is of little interest to me.  It’s like an unwrapped Christmas gift.  Seeing my results right away would influence the process for me, make me adjust my thinking instead of working with instinct and some basic knowledge.  It would almost be like having someone looking over my shoulder with critique or unworthy praise.

Please do not write me and say that I am an old school dork.  I get the obvious merits of digital photography, and the amazing images that are being shot every second around the world speak volumes.  I just prefer to meander about, taking one shot an hour, maybe it takes a week to go through a roll of film.  I’d rather not be confronted with hundreds of sunset photos hoping for one good image.  I usually get at least one winner for every twelve exposures.  I am also a pacifist, and I like the non threatening nature of analog photography.   Ooops, I think I just implied that digital scares me.

How silly is that?

one out of twelve ain't bad

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