From the Blog

Polaroid Photographer Elsa Dorfman Dies at 83

Elsa Dorfman, the photographer best-known for her portraits captured with a 20×24-inch Polaroid camera, passed away this week at the age of 83. We wrote a little bit about her in our January newsletter, in reference to Errol Morris’ delightful documentary from 2017, The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography.

Living in Cambridge, Mass. (the hometown of Polaroid), Dorfman was a master of the Polaroid 20×24 large-format camera, a behemoth of which only a handful were made. Over the course of 30+ years, Dorfman photographed family members and celebrities in her studio with the large camera, usually preparing two photographs on the instant-film format: one for her and the other for her subject. Now, as supplies of the film are drying up, and with her own advancing age, Dorfman is winding her studio down. (If you’d like a deeper dive into Dorfman and her work, Harvard Magazine did an extensive feature on her, “The Portraitist,” a few years ago.)

Dorfman was a singular talent. Her portraits, made with a cranky beast of a camera on a tempestuous medium, were vibrant and full of life and love. They were unique in every sense—even the two shots for every session—and her process, lovingly captured in the documentary, was thoughtful and direct.

At the time we posted this, The B-Side is still available on Netflix, and for rental or purchase on iTunes and Amazon Prime. It is a movie worth watching if you’re interested at all in studying the photographer’s craft, and a bittersweet meditation on one photographer’s life at the end of her career.

Other links to Dorfman:

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Photography Practice: Single Focal Length Challenge

I have been in a photographic funk of late, unable to get into the right frame of mind to shoot. Last week, in the midst of this struggle, I knew that I needed to force myself back into my photography practice. I gave myself an assignment: go out for an afternoon and challenge myself, using one lens at a single focal length.

I use this exercise from time to time, to push me out of my comfort zone and get my mind unstuck. I’m not looking for great photographs; I’m looking to practice the art of seeing. And the great thing about choosing a single focal length — whether using one setting on a zoom or a prime lens — is that it forces me to move around a scene. If I find that I’m receptive to the exercise (it doesn’t always work), it can help me see.

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Epson debuts SureColor P700 and P900 photo printers

Epson this week announced the SureColor P700 and P900 printers, updates to their SureColor 13- and 17-inch, pro-level photo printer line. The new desktop printers offer a smaller footprint; a new pigment-based inkset with 10 inks; improved color gamut; and enhanced connectivity and paper-handling options. In addition — and possibly the most important enhancement for many photographers — the P700/P900 printheads have dedicated channels for the matte and photo black inks, eliminating the previous generation’s ink- and time-consuming process of switching black inks when moving between glossy and matte paper types.

Epson SureColor P900

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