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Model Polaroids
February 23, 2012 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Model Polaroids
posted by the young rope-rider (64 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've often consoled myself with the thought that the one natural resource we will never exhaust is the physical beauty of young women.
posted by Trurl at 6:07 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most of those people are probably 50 now.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:20 PM on February 23, 2012


Anyone else notice the near-total absence of brown eyes? Weird.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:24 PM on February 23, 2012


I wouldn't trade them places in a million years: Sure, they're young and beautiful; I was gangly and awkward at best, but the world I grew up in didn't suck nearly so much, nor in as many explicit ways. Plus we had John Hughes films to help urge us through adolescence. What do these poor kids have?
posted by isopraxis at 6:25 PM on February 23, 2012


There seem to be plenty of beautiful young men, too.

I recognize lots of the models (Karlie Kloss, Coco Rocha, Lindsey Wixson, Chanel Iman) and they're not 50. These are recent-ish photos.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:26 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I inexplicably feel better about being chubby now. Like thin-people-overload.
posted by Mizu at 6:30 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was making the assumption that they were taken when Polaroids were popular.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:31 PM on February 23, 2012


Yeah I was coming in to say that I think most of them are recent as I recognized a lot of the faces belonging to people who are still young. Also it's funny that isopraxis claims to know the character and quality of life of the people in the photos.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:33 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Polaroid film is still pretty popular with a lot of artists/photographers. When I came across a few old cameras in a collection I acquired, my kid out in LA jumped at the chance to acquire them.....
posted by HuronBob at 6:38 PM on February 23, 2012


I feel like I'm looking at a bunch of American Apparel ads sans text.
posted by book 'em dano at 6:40 PM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought they'd stopped making polaroid film. Did I imagine that?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:53 PM on February 23, 2012


I wouldn't trade them places in a million years

I would make them trade places with each other, then I'd give them rifles and snares, and then say "Are you ready to hunt... THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME?" and then when they looked very worried I'd laugh and say "Ah no ha ha I was just bustin ya chops, you're good kids, hey who wants a salt water taffy?"
posted by Greg Nog at 6:55 PM on February 23, 2012 [29 favorites]


Swooning... beautiful people are beautiful. (Sticking my fingers in ears while those with pitchforks gather outside my door. Aesthetic relativism be damned.)
posted by jng at 7:02 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah I was coming in to say that I think most of them are recent as I recognized a lot of the faces belonging to people who are still young. Also it's funny that isopraxis claims to know the character and quality of life of the people in the photos.

Do tell. You've seemingly got the subjective observational trump card up your sleeve and can also recognize these people as still being young. Enlighten us Mary, would these beautiful children be impervious to the naive charms of John Hughes films? Or would you care to prescribe our subjective interpretations on those as well?
posted by isopraxis at 7:07 PM on February 23, 2012


It's not that they're not beautiful. They definitely are. They're just so overwhelmingly homogenous to me, presented in a row like that, in a similar frame. Despite the varying details I can't help but have this reaction of "okay, done with that. Now I need something else to look at." I suppose that's on purpose, since models are chosen to interest you in clothes, not themselves.
posted by Mizu at 7:07 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think more info about who people are/where the photos come from/more/other photos/models can be found at "all about models, 'Paul Rowland's Polaroid Diary"

I do not envy the person engaging in a staring contest with all those stunning, piercing eyes.
posted by infinite intimation at 7:07 PM on February 23, 2012


13 comments. This thread got weird fast.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:08 PM on February 23, 2012


After about the third page they all started to look like Keane paintings to me, personally. But I believe they still use Polaroids in the modelling industry because it's helpful for photographers and others to see the models in a kind of blank-slate, no make-up, shitty lighting pose since professional makeup and lighting can do so much to alter how a person looks.
posted by Diablevert at 7:09 PM on February 23, 2012


i reckon i could take 35 or 40 of these in a fair fight, 50 if i've got a chair-leg.
posted by facetious at 7:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


This is some bleak-ass shit here.
posted by Scientist at 7:23 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


ugh I'm going to go eat some more bagels with salmon schmear

because if I can't be gorgeous I demand life bring me BAGELS instead

they are all so pretty
posted by zennish at 7:25 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess full lips is a requirement for being a model along with eye color other than brown.
posted by JujuB at 7:25 PM on February 23, 2012


Some of these girls look really young. Which I know is a common complaint about the modeling industry, but wow. Some of them look like they're barely teenagers.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:28 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most noted (by a large margin) 8,048. Second most noted 2,396.
posted by unliteral at 7:33 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this the new Calvin Klein child porn ad campaign?
posted by Nelson at 7:43 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let me explain the polaroids.

You are a fashion photographer. You have rented a studio at an exorbitant hourly rate. There is an amazing system of rails overhead that hold amazingly pricey studio flash units, which are each the size and weight of a Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gun, only instead of a barrel, it has an elaborate system of dark and silver and translucent cloth to control the intensity and nature of the light - sharp and stark, soft and ethereal, crisp and clean, dirty and messy. The lights make the shoot. The lights are the shoot. You need to get them right.

You have, upon a camera stand - a massive metal pillar mounted on dolly wheels and equpped with a motile, beefy arm your camera is mounted to, maneuverable in ways mere tripods can never understand while being more solid than they could dream - in that amazing studio rented at an exorbitant hourly rate - a fantastically expensive medium format SLR. In front of the rented lens of that expensive-as-a-car camera, there is a beautiful creature paid by the millions hanging around, cold and nervous.

They are human beings, which means they are imperfect. Some of them will look better from the left. Some of them will look better from the right. Some need to glower or pout straight into the lens to look good.

Medium format SLRs (with notable exceptions) come in four pieces: The Lens, the Finder, the Body and the Back. We all know what the lens does - and it also controls shutter speed and aperture on these types of camera - the body is a lightproof box that houses a mirror that flips up, and connects the other components with standardized connectors. The finder is either a waist-level finder - a piece of ground glass the mirror tosses an image upon, upside down and backwards, that you gaze upon from on high - or an eye-level finder, which means it's an optically pure pentaprism roughly the size and shape of a half-pint carton of half-and-half that slots with precision upon the body of the camera.

This leaves us with the Back! Ah, the film back... you load up your roll of medium format film - which in 120 gives you 12 shots, more or less depending on frame size - insert the dark slide, et voila! You have the photography equivalent of an assault-rifle clip. You are a professional! You have dozens of these pre-loaded and ready to go. Shoot through hundreds of exposures without having to stop more than a few seconds... and this is before digital.

Yet it is not enough. Not enough preparation - the studio, the camera, the assistant photographers and the model, for chrissakes the model - too much money is sunk into this.

There is another type of back for your camera. It loads "pack film" - Polaroid™ film.

Check the lighting. Check the exposure. Check the background. Check the focus. Check the depth of field. Check the model. Check the model. Check the model. Show the model the model. Check the model again looking in a different direction, and show the model that. Show the art director. Check the model again and only show the art director this time.

Ready? The dressers are done? The art director is coked out into a coma? Swap out the Polaroid™ back for a 120 rollfilm back, and you... are... fabulous. Done in one. You now have a rep as a photog who gets it right on the first shoot.

That explains the polaroids.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on February 23, 2012 [47 favorites]


Um, these people are not beautiful. They look zoned out and undernourished.
posted by ms.codex at 7:50 PM on February 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Mom?
posted by isopraxis at 7:55 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was making the assumption that they were taken when Polaroids were popular.

It's not your typical bzzzzzzzzt! 600 film you're looking at.

This is the stuff that would go into the Polaroid back of a $15,000 Mamiya or whatever. Peel-apart stuff. Still looks every bit as terrible as regular Polaroid film, still every bit as expensive (and then some), but it was useful for checking lighting and exposure back before digital got good enough. (Which was very recent.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:55 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You people sound pretty fucking miserable harping on models over the Internet. I assure you that a pro working model can have a very fun life.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:07 PM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'd give them rifles and snares, and then say "Are you ready to hunt... THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME?"

You laugh, but for this and this alone I would finally watch reality tv.
posted by elizardbits at 8:13 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, a quick and dirty look reveals that these phony polaroids are photoshopped.

• last 2 left for you to compare •
posted by isopraxis at 8:39 PM on February 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I assumed that these were basically like "dailies" for still photographers. Not anywhere near the quality you're going to get from your real prints, but enough information for a skilled photographer to know right away if they got it.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:41 PM on February 23, 2012


They look zoned out and undernourished.

No, they look young which is usually synonymous with being thin. Being thin doesn't mean your malnourished just like being fat doesn't mean you're a compulsive over-eater.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:58 PM on February 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Um, these people are not beautiful. They look zoned out and undernourished.

I'm glad we've found the great arbiter of beauty. It's about time.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:05 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, they look young which is usually synonymous with being thin.

"Often" would be more accurate than "usually," especially nowadays, but, yeah, this.

And let's not forget that models are tall. Tall kids often grow skeleton-first, and when that happens, it can be damn near impossible to gain any weight whatsoever. I was in my mid-twenties before I got out of the Oh my god are you okay? range.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:09 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


That explains the polaroids.

No, no. I mean, yes, Polaroids for test shots used to be a thing (and still are, I'm sure, for photographers who still shoot film). But these Polaroids are reference photos of the models *not* on set. Off the street, as it were, without makeup, without styling, without great light or a great eye behind the lens—they're often taken at the agency, under fluorescents or in the basement studio. It's one of the first things an agency does when they sign a model. A client can ask for new Polaroids (well, crummy point-and-shoot snaps now) any time.

Because when you look at the shots on a comp card or in a portfolio, it doesn't really tell you anything at all about what the model actually looks like. They tell you what it is possible for the model to look like, given this spy-makeup mascara, that perfect golden hour light, these clips to cheat the fit on the clothes, that photographer who's so good at giving direction. They only show you the outer parameters of the possible finished product. The Polaroids show you the raw material, the kid who will roll in Thursday morning clutching her cup of coffee and a bottle of Visine. Her shiny, compelling bones. When you ask for Polaroids, you are asking to see blank canvases, so you can grade for color and size, and mix your paints according.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:20 PM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I wish I was as photogenic. Anyone have any insights on how these people look/present in real life?

There's an American Apparel ad at the bus stop across the street from me; blonde girl in the beginning stages of pulling a green (?) sweater over her head. Very unflattering photo, and she has a weird expression on her face, but she comes across - to me at least - as incredibly, incredibly, gorgeous.

Naturally photogenic, just incredibly naturally gorgeous, luck of of the lens, or something else? This would be an exceptionally bad photo for 99.999&c. percent of the human population but it (almost) makes me want to buy American Apparel clothes so I can look better than I do.

posted by porpoise at 9:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish I was as photogenic. Anyone have any insights on how these people look/present in real life?

That's the whole point of the Polaroids?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:25 PM on February 23, 2012


But these Polaroids are reference photos..

Some of them are, once past the first page, most of them are studio test photos.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:27 PM on February 23, 2012


Um, these people are not beautiful. They look zoned out and undernourished.

Let's be serious. If these people were not pretty, would you be here commenting about how ugly pictures of strangers are?
posted by Winnemac at 9:41 PM on February 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Oh hey, Andrej Pejic! Remember that time when the fashion industry briefly became so self-referentially accepting of the unattainability of the feminine beauty standard that they just straight-up hired a young man to model their dresses?
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:43 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else feel like a total creep looking at all these big-eyed, solemn, thin children?
posted by gingerest at 9:47 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's be serious. If these people were not pretty, would you be here commenting about how ugly pictures of strangers are?

Ah, but where would Metafilter be without its baggage?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:49 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's be serious. If these people were not pretty, would you be here commenting about how ugly pictures of strangers are?

I am serious. I don't find these people pretty, and I was surprised by the unanimity in the comments about their beauty, so I spoke up.
posted by ms.codex at 9:54 PM on February 23, 2012


Not finding someone pretty is different than finding someone ugly. The fact that you had to declare that you found everyone "ugly" (there were a lot of pictures...seriously, you didn't find one person pretty?) and judged their eating habits based on their body type just makes you come across as insecure. I think most people can find beauty in a wide range of body types and looks so you must live a hard life with such a narrow definition of beauty.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:11 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Long night, you didn't declare them ugly, that's just how I read it, but my other points still stand.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2012


Also, a quick and dirty look reveals that these phony polaroids are photoshopped.

Nice catch. I wondered where all the pack film was coming from. More likely, these are just instagram shots composited onto a polaroid back.

I liked looking at these people, but now it's over.
posted by fake at 10:33 PM on February 23, 2012


Looking at a lot of pretty and attractive blue-eyed white people gets boring quite quickly.

Bring back freak shows!

I find strikingly (physically) unattractive people to be much more engaging. I enjoy seeking the beauty within.
posted by Kerasia at 10:52 PM on February 23, 2012


not that people who are not white are by definition unattractive.. oh fuck I think I'm digging a hole here...
posted by Kerasia at 10:54 PM on February 23, 2012


Most of these polaroids are taken by the agency to send out because clients request polaroids. They are useful for seeing things like current hair length, what the model looks like in normal circumstances, etc. It is known that the agencies photoshop a lot of these polaroids. Some of these shots were taking during castings for the same reasons. Most of these models are current working models, and most of them are well known in the business. I work in the industry, so I recognize a lot of them and have worked with more than a few. I love the curiosity about these images. They have a real draw to them, and it's wonderful to see them in one place, like a document. And yes, polaroid stopped making film, but Fuji makes an instant camera that lots of casting agents and model agencies are using. We still call them polaroids.
posted by gingembre at 11:06 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I clicked the link kind of expecting that I was going to see photos of people's, um, WW2 fighters & hotrods & Millennium Falcons. Whoops. I think these models need to give themselves expressions. Most are just blankly staring. Soulless. Needs more Millennium Falcons.
posted by frodisaur at 11:50 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think these images quite fascinating. They capture the palimpsest nature of the human figures used in fashion modeling - the Polaroids of their inanimate faces waiting to be drawn upon, written upon are lifeless, like scraped off scroll. The images which capture deviations from the closed mouth, direct stare norm are remarkable for the quick way they capture life, personality and create a person self-written.
posted by honey-barbara at 12:13 AM on February 24, 2012


The fact that you had to declare that you found everyone "ugly" (there were a lot of pictures...seriously, you didn't find one person pretty?) and judged their eating habits based on their body type just makes you come across as insecure. I think most people can find beauty in a wide range of body types and looks so you must live a hard life with such a narrow definition of beauty.

Huh? Look, I'm really sorry I offended you, but I didn't judge their eating habits (nor imply that they were ugly). I said they "looked undernourished" and zoned out. That's just how most of them look, to me.
posted by ms.codex at 12:37 AM on February 24, 2012


Are we seriously arguing about whether these young people are undernourished? Because, seriously, when you're a model, your body is your job. This culture enforces a thin=beautiful standard in professional media, so I seriously doubt their handlers are taking them out to Tex Mex after shoots.

I suppose I'm seeing "under nourished" as bianarily (hell, now I'm making up words!) opposed to "well fed", so that could be the source of it all.

Regardless, Polaroids are cool! ...and the impossible project (link) is my favorite thing right now in analog photography.
posted by zinful at 12:55 AM on February 24, 2012


pretty people
posted by caddis at 3:42 AM on February 24, 2012


35 percent of them are beautiful, 18 percent of them are very beautiful, 47 percent of them are merely young, white and skinny. Not going to say who's who.

But I have spoken.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 3:44 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


No James Varley, shame.
posted by unliteral at 4:23 AM on February 24, 2012


...these Polaroids are reference photos of the models *not* on set.

Looking at them again, you're absolutely right. I got caught up in nostalgia and didn't look closely enough.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:04 AM on February 24, 2012



It's rather weird with no context. I know that the purported context is that these are test photos done on Polaroid film, and that they were either done in a modeling agency to see if the person looks good on film, or for a pic to put in a file or whatever. But standing there, a very young person, giving 'something' to the camera for the sake of selling their youth and beauty, that requires context that just isn't addressed by the picture alone.

There has to be be some kind of leap that says, "I know that modeling is a tough and competative business. I know that only 1% of the people who try it ever make enough money to call it a career. I know that there are tons of other things I could do with my life, things that could potentially change the world, but I want to fly to the nearest big city and see if I can do this."

And talk about ephemeral. Most of these kids, even if they do make a shit-pile of money, will only be able to model successfully for about 3 years. But WHAT a 3 years!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:43 AM on February 24, 2012


I find the whole collection creepy; a litany of polaroids of young people, all with this expectant "am I pretty enough?" look on their faces, scans like evidence after something horrible has happened. I can't shake the awful feeling that a decent percentage of the kids in these photos suffered some sort of abuse, manipulation, or worse at some point after the pics were taken, possibly by the photographer themselves

(that is, provided these aren't 'shopped after all)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:43 AM on February 24, 2012


I said they "looked undernourished" and zoned out. That's just how most of them look, to me.

Do you really need it explained to you that some people are just skinny, in exactly the same way that some people are just fat? Well, here it is: They just are, no matter how much they eat. Not everyone has the same metabolism.

As for "zoned out": These are not family snapshots from Disneyland; the models aren't being forced to feign happiness so they can look back at it and pretend they enjoyed that vacation. They look expressionless because the whole point is to show what they look like in default mode.

Now, all that said, I do believe that more athletic models would be better for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they'd actually fill out the clothes. And, yeah, because fit bodies do look better and are healthier and not only can be achieved (albeit with a whole lot of hard work), but should be.

And that said, as a skinny teenage boy in the 90s, when male models were hunky, the rise of "heroin chic" provided a much-needed boost to my self esteem re: body image. Go figure.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:46 AM on February 24, 2012


I'm not surprised at their weight -- I'm skinny myself, 6'1" and 129lbs in high school -- but I'm surprised at how young they are.

And ditto what you said on self esteem re: body image, Sys Rq. Although I was a skinny teenage boy in the 80s, and oblivious to that being a good thing; it is only in retrospect that I understand why so many girls who didn't like my personality wanted to date me.
posted by davejay at 8:24 AM on February 24, 2012


Sheesh, they are professional clothes hangers, and it's their job to be blank slates and that's why they are thin and that's why they look zoned out. Wow, modelists. Thanks for posting, the young rope-rider, I've always thought Devon Aoki to be great-looking.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2012


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