Obama in an Indian instant

December 13, 2010

Leading up to the midterm elections in November, I worked on a project photographing scenes around the Presidency using an instant film camera called a Fuji Instax, similar to a Polaroid.

(Click here to view the selection in Full Focus.)

That was right on the heels of a President Obama 11 day, 4 country trip to Asia including stops in Mumbai and New Delhi, India.



We arrived several hours early for a welcoming ceremony for Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Indian Presidential Palace, in New Delhi. The security was very tight but once we were inside and in our position, I had time to shoot some Polaroids.


We were in a sectioned off press position and the Indian security would not let us out beyond the rope. However, I could move around freely within the section. The Indian press were fascinated with the camera. They were as anxious to see the images develop as I was.


When we first arrived, the light was beautiful and the red clay on the ground photographed well with the camera. Ironically, it was much more of a challenge when Obama finally arrived (I was shooting digital at this point) because the light became very harsh and contrasty as the morning progressed.


The camera is a rangefinder so there is a bit of a correction needed to frame the pictures correctly. The adjustment required for a close range picture is different to a subject at a distance. The camera has three exposure modes: normal, dark or light and 2 focusing ranges: near or far. Much like shooting with a Holga. The big difference is that you don’t have any control over the exposure as it is an automatic camera. At least the Holga would shoot consistently at 1/100th @ f8.


I think that is the best part of using this camera. Sometimes you just don’t know what you will end up with. Too dark, crooked, out of focus. It is, after all, just a snapshot.

Film is not dead!

A digital frame of the Polaroid I took at the Palace.  REUTERS/Jim Young

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