Jamie Livingston took (at least) one Polaroid per day, starting on March 31, 1979 and continuing until his untimely death on October 25, 1997. Hugh Crawford has held on to this collection ever since, and last year, he Kickstarted a book of the photographs to celebrate what would’ve been Livingston’s 61st birthday.
Some Photos of That Day is that book…
If you’re counting, a polaroid a day from 3/31/1979 to 10/25/1997 is 6,564 polaroids… No wonder this book is so big and heavy, and it puts my paltry 369 consecutive days to shame…
So. If you’re going to take a photo every day for more than 6500 consecutive days, I hope you have a social life and do some traveling. My 369 was full of boring macro shots, flowers, random stuff around my suburban neighborhood, with only occasional forays to various social activities, and even the, there are maybe a dozen pictures with people in them, and that includes selfies. Livingston, though, lived on the Lower East Side in Manhattan and travelled the world as a circus performer. Practically every photo includes some human presence, and it’s clear that Livingston got around and was loved.
It’s also fairly clear that Polaroids change over time: the photos start out heavily shifted towards the blue/green end of the spectrum, and by the end they’re mostly orange. If I looked closer, I could probably identify shifts in manufacturing processes too, as I’m pretty sure Polaroid modified their chemical mixes in response to regulations in that time. But that’s where the size comes in and starts to give me a problem.
This book is heavy, and big. It’s a touch lighter than my hardback copy of Jansen’s Art History (Fifth Edition), which clocks in at nearly 10lbs (or so says Amazon), but beats out all my other massive Art History tomes, making it a bit hard to just sit and peruse. In addition, the scans (or maybe the originals?) aren’t the sharpest, and they start to make my eyes ache a bit after a time.
That said, the book is incredible and moving, and I’m privileged to have a copy.
Self-Publishing a book of this size and complexity was no small task, and kudos to Crawford for pulling it off. It’s no Steidl or Mack, but still. Crawford had his work cut out for him, and to get all these polaroids scanned and put together in InDesign or whatever was a load of work, much less getting the books all printed and shipped out. It’s an inspiring effort, for sure.
You can get a copy of Some Photos from That Day direct from Crawford, and at time of writing, they’re on sale. If you’re into Instant photography or Polaroid or New York in the 1980s and 90s, this book has something for you, and it’s worth it.