November 2nd had been a day marked in my calendar for months. Even before I knew an exact date, there was no doubt that I would attending Blading Cup with a Polaroid camera in hand. I’d spent months plotting how to cover it. Do I shoot in color or black and white? Which will hold up in the heat all day? How much film do I buy? Should I buy a backup camera? I knew regardless of the answers, the day would be documented in analogue.
No one expects to see someone snapping Polaroids during a competition amid smartphones and digital cameras. It’s a living fossil. It is a bygone collective memory of yesteryear that lives on in Instagram and phases like, “Shake it like a polaroid.” It’s the funny black box camera from your childhood that lives in the back of the closet. And there I was, darting around a digital crowd, raising bemused looks. While trying to photograph someone I paused, looking for the perfect moment, and they turned to ask if I was recording .
Polaroid film stopped being made in 2008 when Polaroid’s factories were shut down. Most would assume that it was end of the line. I thought as much myself until I came across The Impossible Project a couple years ago, which makes compatible film in a former Polaroid manufacturing plant located in Holland. The classically aged style of Impossible’s films evokes a nostalgia I can’t find in digital photography. It is one that matches my nostalgia for rollerblading. Both are quirky, unexpected, exciting, and on the fringes of the mainstream. The nature of Polaroid film seems like a natural fit to capture the way I feel about a sport that has given me the best memories of my life. That’s over half of my existence imparted to a sport that is also a way of life.
Film does come with limitations. One of them being the finite number of photos in a pack of film. When you only have eight photos in a pack, you find yourself asking what you want to remember most. Here’s what I chose to remember from my day at Blading Cup.
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