Richard Welling and the SX-70

November 18, 2013 · Collections ·

The SX-70 was a camera manufactured by Polaroid between 1972 and 1981. The new Polaroid greatly improved on the early models, which required the user to manually pull the photograph out of the camera and peel apart the film pack, as it ejected the film automatically and developed automatically, as well. 

When I was in college, I got an SX-70 because I had learned that the emulsion in the film pack stayed soft and pliable, and could be manipulated while the image was developing to produce painterly effects. I had seen cool photos in books and online and wanted to try my hand at duplicating the results. I used the camera a few times, tried the emulsion manipulation, didn’t get the results I wanted, and gave up. I found the camera last year, its leather crumbling and coated in a white chalky powder.

A couple months ago, I started cataloging Richard Welling’s Polaroid photographs. He used an SX-70, sans manipulation, to photograph everything from trains to flowers to various circular objects. In particular, he documented downtown Hartford’s architectural changes. Having tried my own hand at using an SX-70, I remain impressed with what he has been able to capture.

 Tasha Caswell is a Project Cataloger/Researcher at the Connecticut Historical Society

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