PolaCon NYC Returns!

With Polaroid as a Headlining Sponsor

8 min read by Dmitri.
Published on .

PolaCon is back for the second year in New York City.

The conference will sprawl across the iconic metropolis boroughs, from the creative hub of Brooklyn Film Camera to the artistic spaces of Worthless Studios.

Participants will have the chance to explore an array of unique cameras and modifications, experiment with both contemporary and rare expired films, and engage in workshops with experts from Polaroid.

This event will last three days; it’s open to photographers and instant film enthusiasts of all levels.

General admission is $50.

(Special scholarships offered for students and low-income artists).

What is PolaCon?

PolaCon was first organized by Daniel Rodrigue as a Texan instant film shooters’ meetup in Denton — back in 2012.

The first event involved a photo walk at the local fair with just a few participants — but it quickly grew to a popular event that travelled across numerous major US cities, including San Francisco and NYC. The latest gatherings began to attract celebrities: Jason Lee (a former pro-skater, an actor best known for My Name is Earl, and a film photographer) as well as the community favourites, Jason Kummerfeldt (grainydays) and Sissi Lu.

Last year, I spoke to Daniel about the history of PolaCon, its origins and plans for the future. You can read it here.

PolaCon is packed with organized events: talks, photo walks, scavenger hunts, meetups, and a keynote: “State of the Emulsion Address,” where the industry’s leading voices discuss the past and the future of instant film.

Polaroid and PolaCon.

Polaroid has had an increasing presence at the event, starting with light sponsorships. The latest events had representatives fly in from The Netherlands, culminating in this year’s participation as a headlining sponsor. However, PolaCon is an independent event run by Daniel and the Instant Film Society, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit.

Event venues.

Brooklyn Film Camera. 855 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11221. (Google Maps or Apple Maps).

Worthless Studios. 7 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237. (Google Maps or Apple Maps).

Haven Lounge. 683 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211. (Google Maps or Apple Maps).

Pebble Beach. (Google Maps or Apple Maps).

Event schedule.

Friday, May 17.

11AM-7PM BFC Backyard Social (Brooklyn Film Camera). “Slow things down and relax in BFC's backyard with other film photographers.” This event is open to the public.

12PM-7PM Check-in to PolaCon (Worthless Studios).

12:15PM-6PM Opening Festivities (Worthless Studios). “Welcome address from the organizers, workshops, demos, PolaCon Q&A.” Shooting stations will be open to the public.

12:30PM-1PM Workshop: Instant Film 101 with Martin Souza (Worthless Studios). “Learn the ins & outs of instant film. Martin will cover instant film history, currently available cameras and film stocks, and tips and tricks for shooting to get the best results.” Class Size: 10-25.

1PM-1:30PM Demo: “Instant Optics” with Brooklyn Film Camera (Worthless Studios). “In this workshop, BFC staff will demonstrate their new line of lenses, filters, and prisms for Polaroid SX-70 and 600 cameras. The release of ‘Instant Optics’ marks the first time that high-quality glass optics have been manufactured for the Polaroid ecosystem in over 40 years!” Class Size: 20-35.

1:30PM-2PM Demo: 8x10 Polaroid photography with Nick Collingwood(Worthless Studios). “Join film photographer extraordinaire and instant film guru Nick Collingwood for a demonstration of large format Polaroid photography!” Class Size: 20-35.

2PM-2:45PM Talk & Demo: The Democratization of Camera-making with Mario Machon (Worthless Studios). “Join engineer and camera hacker/builder Mario Machon for a brief overview of the increasing access to, and evolution of, DIY camera-making techniques and materials. A short talk will be followed by a demo and portrait session with Mario’s latest creations.” Class Size: 20-35.

2PM-4PM B&W Portraits with the Polaroid I-2 Camera with Polaroid (Worthless Studios). “Polaroid in-house photographer Hatti Browse will talk about her experience with the Polaroid I-2 camera and how she’s able to take advantage of all its manual controls.” Class Size: 30-45.

3PM-3:45PM Talk: Shooting Polaroid Film Behind The Scenes with Joan Michel (Worthless Studios).” Join photographer and YouTuber Joan Michel for a discussion and Q&A about her experience shooting Polaroid film behind the scenes on film sets, and at the Met Gala.”

4PM-4:45PM Talk: The 12:12 Project with Cromwell Shubarth (Worthless Studios). “The 12:12 Project is an international instant film collective that consistently pushes the bounds of creativity on the medium of instant film. Learn all about the 12:12 Project from one of its organizers and artists Cromwell Schubarth and a selection of other 12:12 Project photographers.”

5PM-6PM Workshop: Natural Light Portraits with Bret Watkins (Worthless Studios). “Join Bret for a hands-on workshop where you’ll learn how to make the most out of natural light and take your Polaroid portraiture to the next level!” Class Size: 10-25.

6PM-7PM Dinner Break. Open to the public.

7PM-10PM Karaoke! (Haven Lounge). Open to the public.

10PM-onwards Choose Your Own Adventure. “Enjoy Bushwick’s many nightlife options within walking distance from the event. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and more! Some Suggestions: House of Yes (night club), MoonRise NYC (night club), Carousel (groovy bar), Jupiter Disco (funky bar), Left Hand Path (cozy bar), The Johnson’s (hipster dive bar).” Open to the public.

Saturday, May 18.

11AM-7PM BFC Backyard Social (Brooklyn Film Camera). “Slow things down and relax in BFC's backyard with other film photographers. Water will be provided by Liquid Death and vibes will be curated by Polaroid.” Open to the public.

12PM-7PM Check-in to PolaCon (Worthless Studios).

12PM-6PM The Main Event (Worthless Studios). “Workshops, Demos, Talks, Panel Discussions, Zines & Things Swap Meet, Vendors, and More! Shooting stations will be open to the public.”

12PM-12:45PM Talk: Polaroid History with Chris Bonanos (Worthless Studios).” Join Chris Bonanos, author of ‘Instant: The Story of Polaroid’ for a fascinating dive into the history and technology of one of America's most impactful and creative companies.”

1PM-2PM Demo: Get to know the Polaroid I-2 Camera with Polaroid (Worthless Studios). “Join Polaroid and try out the I-2 camera for yourself in a studio setting! Participants will each be given 1 pack of B&W 600 film and Polaroid in-house photographer Hatti Browse will be there to assist and provide tips.” Class Size: 30 (participants will be drawn by lottery if more than 30 attend).

1PM-1:45PM Talk: Restoring a Polaroid Photo Booth Q&A with Wesley Landson (Worthless Studios). “Find out how Wesley beautifully and carefully converted a vintage Polaroid Spectra photo booth to shoot Polaroid i-Type film. Each part of his machine has been lovingly restored and is truly a magnificent sight to behold. Hop in and have your instant photo captured in this fully functioning Polaroid photo booth.”

2PM-2:45PM Workshop: Self Portraits & Photo Shoot Conceptualization with Sophia Love (Worthless Studios). “Join experimental photographic artist Sophia Love who will guide you through her process for making the perfect instant film self portrait. Discover how she conceptualizes shoots, and get a chance to snap your own self portrait in one of her created sets.” Class Size: 10-25.

3PM-3:45PM Talk: Polaroid Creativity and Manipulations with Rhiannon Adam (Worthless Studios). “Join us for a chat with London-based photographer, author, and soon to be passenger to the Moon, Rhiannon Adam.”

4PM-4:30PM Demo: Polaroid Film-Pack Masking with Carlton Bright (Worthless Studios). “Join photographer and artist Carlton Bright for a step-by-step demo on the art of Polaroid film-pack masking. Carlton has been working creatively with Polaroid film since the 80s and will show you his techniques for turning instant film into instant art!” Class Size: 10-25.

4PM-4:45PM Workshop: Instant Film Arts & Crafts with Lora O’Shaughnessy & Alexas Monroe (Worthless Studios). Try your hand at an assortment of instant film arts & crafts. Lora and Alexas will guide you through everything from Polaroid manipulations to destructions to emulsion lifts. Join in the fun, bring some Polaroid images that you'd like to manipulate, and transform your instant film photos into unique works of art.” Class Size: 10-25.

5PM-6PM Talk: The State of the Emulsion Address with Daniel Rodrigue, Ben Fraternale, Joan Michel, Bret Watkins, Sophia Love, Cromwell Schubarth, and Kyle Depew (Worthless Studios). “A PolaCon tradition! Join this wonderful cast of characters for a panel discussion and Q&A covering a variety of instant and non-instant film related topics.”

6PM-7PM Dinner Break. Open to the public.

7PM-8PM Instant Photo Booth with featured photographer Ryan Rudewicz (Worthless Studios). “Get your photo snapped by one of New York’s hottest instant film photographers! Ryan Rudewicz is a two time Glam Award winner for NYC’s Best Nightlife Photographer. Dress to impress.”

7PM-10PM PolaParty! (Worthless Studios). “Drinks, dancing, entertainment, and a sumptuous surprise! Beer will be served and shooting stations will be open to the public.”

10PM-onwards Choose Your Own Adventure. “Enjoy Bushwick’s many nightlife options within walking distance from the event. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and more! Some Suggestions: House of Yes (night club), MoonRise NYC (night club), Carousel (groovy bar), Jupiter Disco (funky bar), Left Hand Path (cozy bar), The Johnson’s (hipster dive bar).” Open to the public.

Sunday, May 19.

12PM-2PM Photo Walk: DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park with Ben Fraternale (Meet at Pebble Beach + Bridge Park, near the Manhattan Bridge). “Shake off your hangover and meet-up with fellow bleary-eyed PolaPals in Brooklyn’s beautiful DUMBO neighborhood.” Open to the public.

1PM-7PM BFC Backyard Social (Brooklyn Film Camera). “Slow things down and relax in BFC’s backyard with other film photographers. Water will be provided by Liquid Death and vibes will be curated by Polaroid.” Open to the public.

2PM-4PM Photo Walk: The Fabulous 5th Ave Fair with Rick DeMint (Meetup location TBD) “Join photographer Rick DeMint for a photo walk through Park Slope’s annual ‘Fabulous 5th Ave Fair,’ a huge street fair spanning 18 blocks along 5th Ave (from Sterling Place to 12th Street).” Open to the public.

6PM-8PM Wrap Party (Brooklyn Film Camera). “Gather together, share the work you made over the PolaCon weekend, and relax around a cozy fire in BFC's backyard. PolaCon is over but the friendships we made will endure! Stop by for one last beer and say goodbye to the beautiful people you met over the weekend.” Open to the public.


Times and locations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date list of events, see the Instant Film Society website.