Polaroid Corporation records, series XI: Photographs of Polaroid consultant photographers
Scope and Contents
The records are arranged into series by name of the photographer. The content and arrangement of each of series is described in detail in the notes below.
- Dean, Nicholas (Photographer, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Extent10 linear feet (15 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
The first, most engaged and longest-serving of these consultants was the noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whom Land met in 1948. For over three decades, Adams helped guide the company in making products that served not only amateur photographers but professional and creative ones as well. The value of Adams' contributions to its product development led Polaroid to employ other photographers as consultants, many of whom were referred to Polaroid through Adams. As Polaroid's products became increasingly refined, consultants were encouraged to make creative photographs with the materials, not just test photographs, to see how far the materials could be pushed. These photographers included Paul Caponigro, Walter Chappell, William (Bill) Clift, Marie Cosindas, Nicholas (Nick) Dean, Gerry Sharpe and Don Worth. Others such as Laurie Seamans and Anne Bell were hired directly by Meroe Morse, head of the black and white laboratory. Morse served as the main liaison for the photographers, often asking them to test and examine specific qualities of the film, but also allowing them freedom to experiment with Polaroid’s products. Eventually these efforts evolved into a loosely structured program, which Morse continued to lead with the assistance of other Polaroid employees such as A.L. Hyland, who oversaw administration and budget. Under Morse’s leadership, the program expanded, with Polaroid providing consultants with film and equipment and with some degree of monetary compensation, which varied according to photographer. Polaroid also purchased prints from the photographers at mutually agreeable prices (Morse often facilitated these transactions). The function and use of these prints within the company varied – some of the prints were for research purposes while others were displayed as art photographs. Around 1969, the corporation decided to formalize the consultant program, which would eventually become Polaroid’s Artist Support Program, a means by which Polaroid encouraged and supported artists and built its own art collection.
The consultant photographers contributed to the development of the many photographic products that Polaroid released from the 1940s to the 1970s. The 1948 camera and film launched a new photographic process that captivated consumers, producing a fully-developed sepia photograph in sixty seconds. A film producing more modern black and white photographs followed soon after in 1950, and by 1952, a second Polaroid camera was released. By 1960, the company had introduced nearly ten additional roll film types that not only varied in film speeds, exposure ranges and contrast, and included orthochromatic and panchromatic films, but also when developed could produce smaller-sized photographs and transparencies. Within the same decade Polaroid also released its 4x5 film as single film packets that fit into specially-designed holders for use with non-Polaroid 4x5 view and press cameras. By 1961, the 4x5 film Type 55 P/N was released, which produced reusable negatives, unlike the non-reusable paper negatives produced by most of Polaroid's other film types. Even though the roll film was continually improving, the 4x5 system along with the reusable negative marked a turning point as serious photographers were able to use the film with cameras of their choosing and could make multiple enlargements from negatives. In 1963, pack film was introduced, considered to be more convenient than roll film in part because it allowed exposures to be developed outside the camera and, in the same year, color film was released in the roll, 4x5, and pack film formats. In 1972, the SX-70 film and camera were released, the first true integral, one-step instant film process that Polaroid founder Edwin Land had always envisioned. Two additional products Polaroid released at the end of the 1970s were the instant movie film Polavision and the 20x24 camera.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Baker Library
- May 2019
- Description rules
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository
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