Polacon 2017 Preview

PolaCon, the world’s first instant film convention, is coming back to Denton later this month. Last year was PolaCon’s inaugural year, and this year the Instant Film Society has three jam-packed days' worth of instant fun in store for instant film fans. 

The 2017 PolaCon will offer multiple different workshops, exhibitions, five different PolaWalks, guest speakers, and, just like last year, a bunch of surprises. The workshops will consist of more than 20 film- and camera-specific talks that will touch on different subjects ranging from the basics to more advanced techniques and practices. 

The Instant Film Society, formed in 2012, is responsible for the creation of PolaCon. The IFS has hosted PolaWalks and other Polaroid-related events throughout the years, but decided to pull the trigger on their big idea last year. 

There will be two workshops addressing best practices for the new Polaroid Originals film.

In recent news, Polaroid launched Polaroid Originals. The instant film type was resurrected by the Impossible Project in 2001.

After abandoning instant film back in 2007–2008, on September 13, 2017 (the 80th anniversary of inventor Edwin Lands’ founding of Polaroid), Polaroid Originals launched with the goal of bringing instant film photography back to its roots in classic Polaroid cameras, while also introducing new-and-improved film and a new line of Polaroid film cameras for the first time in more than a decade. And we’re pleased to have George Weiss, a representative from Polaroid Originals, attending as part of PolaCon.

If you’ve been saving a couple packs of your favorite film for however long, now is the time to take it out and use it! PolaCon kicks off in Dallas for the fifth annual PolaWalk at the State Fair of Texas. PolaCon takes place September 29 through October 1, 2017. 

The featured photographers will lead more than 20 film- and camera-specific workshops covering topics from the basics of instant film and the various available vintage and new cameras to more advanced techniques for folks who have been shooting with film for years, including workshops for all the commercially available film, as well as some expired and increasingly hard-to-find film types. This year, PolaCon’s scheduled programming features five PolaWalks, an EPIC! Instant Film Scavenger Hunt with cool prizes for the top winners, panel discussions, a camera and film "swap meet" and a zine and small prints swap on Saturday, an instant film exhibition, a “pop-up” Instant Film Museum with an Interactive Timeline of Instant Film, large-format camera (4x5 and 8x10) demos and photobooths; and a “How to Dance Warhol’s ‘Big Shot Shuffle’” demo and photobooth. Like last year, IFS members have planned several cool surprises, special pop-up events, and colorful Polaroid-friendly “photo-ops” and backdrops.

The IFS was founded in 2012 to increase awareness, accessibility, and understanding of instant film photography. PolaWalks in North Texas have drawn as few as 12 photographers (for the very first IFS meet-up back in 2012) and as many as 83 to 85 instant film shooters. Instant Film Society members from North Texas and Los Angeles first started discussing a centrally located convention-esque meet-up and event with demos, workshops, and walks as early as 2014, and after the planning slowly started to take shape, PolaCon2016 was first announced on social media in September 2015. PolaCon2017 kicks off at noon in Dallas and Denton with meet-ups and Instant Film 101 workshops followed by a meet-up at 4 p.m. in Deep Ellum with a PolaWalk to Fair Park for the 6th Annual Rain-or-Shine #PolaWalk at the State Fair of Texas. At 7 p.m., attendees will meet-up at Big Tex for a Texas-sized group portrait, camera swaps, and the start of the scavenger hunt. (PHOTO-OP: Since most IFS members carry a variety of vintage analog cameras in their bags, this can be impressive to photograph.) Attendees will need to purchase a ticket to the State Fair. Friday ends with a “Neon at Night” walk through Deep Ellum for the night owls. Saturday and Sunday’s events, workshops, meet-ups, and other programming will center around Denton’s picturesque historic town square at the Evers Hardware Building (which houses the Norman Roscoe pop-up shop), Denton Camera Exchange, and the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center. Specialized sessions will feature photographers sharing insights and expertise on topics ranging from using natural light for better results (instead of a flash), a demo of the Impossible I-1 camera demo, a New 55 demo, how to retrofit old Polaroid cameras to shoot the “wrong” film or tintypes, and a how-to session on instant-film travel journals, as well as other sessions on printing and enlarging instant film images for prints or for zines, photobooks, and self-publishing.

Saturday and Sunday of PolaCon are 100 percent free to attend. However, some workshops, how-to demos, and guest speaker events will have limited seating and be restricted to guests who have RSVP'd, due to venue limitations. All Saturday and Sunday attendees must register through Eventbrite:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/polacon-2017- tickets-35491036646

Header image courtesy of Polacon
Header image layout designed by Christopher Rodgers