A Life, In Instant Pictures

On March 31, 1979, a Bard College student named Jamie Livingston did something unspectacular — he took the picture, above, with his Polaroid camera.   On April 1, 1979, he took another perfectly uninteresting Polaroid.  On the 2nd, another.  The 3rd, another.  In 1979, he took roughly 275 — one a day.

He continued on this project every day for the next 18 years, totaling 6,000 pictures.  On October 24, 1997, Livingston took his last picture — him, on his death bed.

Two friends of Livingston, Hugh Crawford and  turned his collection of pictures into an exhibit of its own, which you can flip through here.  The exhibit was reproduced for display at Bard in 2007.  While the pictures themselves seems random and meaningless, together, they tell a story.  As Crawfordtold the New York Times, “They often don’t mean anything by themselves. But when you put them all together, they take on a life of their own.”

This could not be more true.  The popular blog Mental Floss curated some of the photos, taking us through Livingston’s life.  He was a film makermusicianMets fan, and unfortunately, cancer patient.  Livingston passed away on October 25, 1997 — his 41st birthday.

Bonus fact:  On the other hand, sometimes one photo tells the entire story.  Here’s a photo from Leshan, China, showing a neat phenomenon: the sun appears three times.  That’s more suns than Tatooine!

Related: A not-quite-vintage Polaroid camera is still available on Amazon, even if they are no longer in production.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.