Between Blocks

Book Review

3 min read by Dmitri.
Published on .

✪​ Note: Daren (the book’s author) and I agreed to make it available at FilmBase — an online shop for books and film cameras I run alongside this blog. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that I mean every word in this review and intend to be as accurate as I am in all the 475+ independent articles on Analog.Cafe since 2017.

Spring starts early in Vancouver — thanks to the warm ocean streams that turn British Columbia’s coast into a northern rainforest. Few things bloom during the dark and wet winter, which may be why flowers are so important to Vancouverites. The first petals of the year signal the arrival of the long, warm season of clear skies until November.

Between Blocks is a collection of Polaroid frames filled with flowering plants of Vancouver, printed to scale across 100 A5 pages in softcover, perfect-bound, and limited to 500 copies.

The introduction sets the tone for the book, where its authors, Daren Zomerman and Sara Faridamin, explain why there are fewer flowers today than there were before the urban sprawl took that part of Canada.

This book is set in one of the prolific Vancouver neighbourhoods, where its owners have the opportunity and choose to seed and care for the flowers in their yards.

Between Blocks is a photo series capturing and celebrating that community care and love of flowers on Polaroid film. Polaroids, just like the flowers, are each unique and imperfect in their own way. And just like the flower, they can only ever be one Polaroid photo — no copies can ever be made.

I love that Daren and Sara chose to print their Polaroid frames true to their size and colour*. This makes the experience of flipping through the book feel like leafing through an album or a botanical catalogue.

✱ — Black and white Polaroid film can have sepia tones once it fully develops, which this book illustrates rather well.

The layout of this book is simple: a Polaroid frame on the right, with ample white space and the flower’s name on the left page. Some spreads feature Polaroids on each page — particularly the ones that are easy to identify, like the stages of the allium flower, labelled earlier in the book.

The print looks to be made on bright-white coated paper that isn’t particularly heavy. This makes flipping through the fresh copy relatively easy.

As expected, the print doesn’t translate 100% of the original Polaroid frames’ fidelity. But if you want that, you can order your book with one of the five real Polaroid pictures (printed via Polaroid Lab) for $102 Canadian or about $76 USD. Or you can get just the book for about $25 USD.

This book is not extravagant, which I think suits the purpose I found for it very well. Having gone through it the first time, to appreciate Daren and Sara’s craft, I now use it sporadically to identify flowers in my neighbourhood and consider how they may look best in my own film exposures.