Guest Post ~ Vivienne McMaster

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 3

I’m excited to share a guest post today written by the lovely and talented Vivienne McMaster. Viv is an avid self-portrait photographer who is able to capture the most stunning photos. And like me, she is a lover of Polaroid!! As Viv is also claiming her “artist” self, I asked Viv to share some of her thoughts on self-portraiture, Polaroid, and being an artist. Here’s what Viv had to say…

I walk down to the beach with an armful of Polaroid cameras.

The click of a Polaroid Camera is like no other and my creative muse craves it.  I place my cameras down and first focus on the Polaroid Spectra.  Though not a pretty camera it contains an unexpected magic.

I press the timer button and run to my place in the sand.  I stretch my arms wide or twirl, whichever feels more true to me in the moment.  The photo doesn’t shoot out of the camera though.  That is where the magic of a Polaroid Spectra lies for me, in double exposures.  I bend down in the dunes and take another shot then let the image emerge.  I watch it slowly appear.  You can’t predict what it will look like, or how the layers will emerge and they do and I do a giddy dance at what I see.

There are just some tools, like a Spectra Camera, that allow me to channel my creativity in a way I can’t expect or control, but what happens feels so right.

I put the Spectra down and pick up the SX-70 camera.  It is packed with one of my last few packs of old Polaroid film.  It takes a special sunny moment for me to aim it at myself.  This moment feels right.

I set the focus on the camera for what my arms length might be and reach outwards and press the button.  The sound of the SX-70 is dreamy.  I watch this image appear.

There is something so special about Polaroid film.  A big piece of taking self-portraits for me is to capture a moment, to say ‘I was here’ and be the narrator of the visual story of my life.  Polaroid captures it in such a timeless way.

I hold these images in my hand.

With their white borders they feel like complete works of art.

I arrive back where I am staying and place them on the windowsill, lining them up creating a gallery.  The friends I am gathered with come check them out and all of a sudden I feel really proud.  I want to give all of the credit to the brilliance of Polaroid but I take this moment to remember what I tell my students in my online classes: that it is YOU who takes the picture, not your camera.  So I take a deep breath and accept a compliment.

I so resonated with Meghan’s recent post about considering herself an artist.  I had never considered myself one growing up and had little artistic confidence.  Sometimes the most unexpected mediums appear in our lives and help us speak our creative voices in a way we couldn’t have predicted. They help us stand stronger and see ourselves claim that word of ‘artist’ or ‘photographer.’

It makes me feel so proud to see participants in my class, You are Your Own Muse, have that realization that they are in fact artists, or photographers and to see their unique creative voice appear {The next session of You are Your Own Muse starts May 23}!

Through playfulness and exploration we discover these pieces of our identity and what sparks our creativity and we can stand stronger and prouder of our artistic adventures. Whether it is with a Polaroid camera or digital, it doesn’t matter….it is us that speaks our creative voice through them!

I carry my Polaroid with me in my camera bag and keep my eyes open for moments that feel like part of my story and use these incredible photographic tools to help me tell that tale.


Isn’t she great! Viv is even teaching online classes on self-portraits, and as a previous student in her class, I can attest that it is chock-full of helpful ideas and inspiration. Thanks for your guest post, Viv. I’m grabbing my Spectra and heading out.

3 Responses

  1. Celina Wyss says:

    Love your photos Vivienne! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m thinking I would love to add a Spectra to my collection now too!

  2. Karen says:

    love the way you describe your love of the pola Viv, thanks for sharing this with us Meghan and Vivienne….


  3. Tiffany Hogan says:

    What an inspirational post. Thank you Vivienne!

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