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  • James Clive Richards

#gay polaroids.


Every shoot undertaken for my project I shot using 35mm film on my Pentax K1000. I also experimented towards the end of my time shooting for the project on 120mm medium format for the first time, using a Mamiya C220.


So the whole project has been photographed and produced purely 100% on film. This was a deliberate chose due to the much slower process of working with film. Each frame must be carefully considered as to not waste an exposure. In the digital era of instant results and instant gratification, I ultimately chose film as the sitters wouldn't be able to see the results until they were developed. Thus, keeping them in the moment.

@ethan_johnson Polaroid by James Richards©, 2018.

That being said however, I also brought my Polaroid 636 Close-Up camera to every photoshoot undertook for the project. This was not so much an essential part of the project, more a little fun to end each session. Shooting polaroids with all the homosexual men who agreed to sit for the project. Then allowing the sitter to pick their favourite few polaroids too keep as a physical memento of our afternoon and time spent together. 

@samuelsayshi Polaroid by James Richards©, 2019.

I have always been fascinated with Polaroids ever since I was a child and would play around with my parents Polaroid camera, completely wasting film shooting anything and everything I found of interest. Mostly looking back I wasted the shots more so I could sit and enjoy the magic of watching the film develop before my eyes as the photograph would slowly appear. I've found this fascination is something we all share with Polaroid. All the sitters were fascinated by the film and all enjoyed watching as the photographs of themselves slowly came into view.

@alvschiavo Polaroid by James Richards©, 2019.

Polaroid due to its instant development was the format of choice for many homosexual men during the 80's and 90's. Lovers were able to take intimate and loving couple photographs and keep them private. Polaroids offered the opportunity to capture precious moments without the "shame" of taken a film to be developed at a photography lab and socially judged or discriminated against for revealing or exposing their homosexual life-style. Thus, gay culture or rather the concealment of gay culture was mainly captured in it's early years on Polaroid as they self-developed and thus if an individual wasn't "out" then they could remain in the closet and give the appearance of having a "normal life". As being homosexual at this time was social frowned upon and could lead to social shame and possible arrest.

@its.me.rossi Polaroid by James Richards©, 2018.

The first photographer I discovered to use Polaroid exclusively for a project was Tom Bianchi who photographed the homosexual paradise of Fire Island Palms, New York. Photographing his homosexual friends, acquaintances and his personal lovers from the years of 1973 - 1985. This was a place the homosexual community had created as a safe space they could go and be they're authentic-selves free from the prejudice and judgement of others. They were free. Bianchi photographed the entire project on just Polaroid film as a nod to the mediums privacy, as with the film self developing their was no danger of an individual being exposed during the development process at a lab etc. Fire Island Palms is a stunning, beautiful, sometimes graphic, but intimate portrayal of the homosexual community captured through the eyes of an openly homosexual man. This project is a historical document of 1970's and 80's gay culture.

@henryjcb Polaroid by James Richards©, 2018.

Models Instagrams (in the order of appearance) -


Ethan - @ethan_johnson

Samuel - @samuelsayshi

Anthony - @alvschiavo

Ross - @its.me.rossi

Henry - @henryjcb

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JAMES CLIVE RICHARDS©, 2020. 

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