Wim Wenders Shows Off Polaroids in New Show

(photo by Wim Wenders, Sydney)

Wim Wenders is many things. Filmmaker, playwright, author, photographer. He's an old-school Renaissance man and in the simplest terms, an artist. He's probably most famous for directing the documentary Buena Vista Social Club, which chronicled the music in Cuba. 

Throughout his journey of making art since the 60s, he's taken pictures. In fact, he used to take a lot of them, specifically Polaroids. He didn't start taking them because he thought they were artistic, he started like most people who took Polaroids. They were an instant representation of what they wanted. No waiting, just a glimpse of life in your hands. Now he has a new show in London called Instant Stories: Wim Wenders' Polaroids, which will play until early next year. 

(Wim Wenders claims Dennis Hopper invented the Selfie with this image 

Vincent Dowd interviewed Wim for the BBC World News Service and here are some excerpts: 

"I'd had traditional cameras since I was six or so and I enjoyed using them. But there was a whole new spontaneity with the Polaroid which I think some people are now starting to rediscover the way they've rediscovered music on vinyl.
"I think people who look at the images will find a sort of beauty here. The colours the process produced are great, though the monochrome images are attractive too."
There was also a use behind the camera. "So at this time there's no video playout and you only see your rushes three days later. The Polaroid camera can be a real help setting up a shot."
But in the 1980s Wenders abandoned Polaroids entirely. "I was starting to take stills photography more seriously and I started to use large-size cameras".
But he retained one of his old Polaroid cameras and only recently gave it to Patti Smith to replace one she was having problems with.
Wenders thinks digital photography is now so problem-free and so cheap that a lot of the creativity has gone.
"It's so easy for a professional photographer to take hundreds or even thousands of pictures of a particular face or of a scene and of course a few of them will be good and the rest are wiped. It can be an impersonal, industrial process.
"The Polaroid was instant but it was still connected to the original idea of photography. There was always something sacred about the act of stealing an image from the world."

Instant Stories: Wim Wenders' Polaroids is at the Photographers' Gallery will be showing in London until February 11, 2018.