Journalism students prepare for Polaroid Shootout

Long before Instagram made it easy to share photographic moments with friends and family, there were Polaroid cameras.

The once popular instant cameras used self-developing film that made it possible to view and share photos moments after they were taken. Sung Park, a journalism instructor in the UO School of Journalism and Communications, has a collection of Polaroid cameras in his office at Allen Hall and thinks there's still value in shooting film — not to mention fun.

"It's retro, it's hip," he said.

On Feb. 9, Park and members of the UO student chapter of the National Press Photographers' Association, will organize the second annual Polaroid Shootout on campus. In exchange for a $10 entry fee, each of about 15 students will get the use of a Polaroid camera and a 10-pack of film.

After a quick training in how to use the cameras, the students will receive one or more "prompts," or concepts for an assignment, and a tight deadline. A panel of judges will pick winners in different categories. Winners get to keep the camera and a 10-pack of film.

"The idea is to think on your feet, and work within limitations," Park said.

The contest requires students to think differently about making photographs. Instead of firing off dozens of shots at a clip, as is possible with today's digital cameras, they have just 10 chances to produce a compelling image.

To do that, students will need to think when to push the shutter to capture "the decisive moment," the moment in time captured on film that tells a story.

A black-and-white Polaroid photo of birds on a wire by Myray Reames.

"They have 10 pictures — that's all they have," Park said. "They have to make each one count. They have to have vision and commit to a decision."

Myray Reames, a junior studying journalism, was a winner in last year's Shootout for her image of birds on a wire, and plans to enter again this year. The limited number of shots, combined with a deadline, "made you be more creative," she said. 

"It was just really fun," she said. "I"m excited to do it again."

Images from last year's contest can be seen on the UONPPA Web site. Students were given two prompts: "Me and my wheels," and "O on Campus." 

UONPPA Polaroid Shootout (teaser) from Ivar Vong on Vimeo.