blog header image

The Big Picture

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008.

Photographer and Longmeadow, Massachusetts resident John Reuter stopped by the MobileEast Booth while we were in neighboring Springfield. He brought along his friend, colleague and fellow photographer Jennifer Trausch to talk about the very unique camera with which they both work in New York City. “John and I work together operating a large format camera,” says Jennifer. “We have a rental facility that artists and photographers rent to use this very special camera. The camera itself is 239 pounds and it shoots a 20 x 24 image that is on Polaroid film. There were six of these cameras built between the years of 1976 and 1978 and three of those are in a similar situation where its a rental facility, we make it easy for people to come in and use the camera, but the New York Studio has always been the largest in this business, so we facilitate about 80 to 85 percent world wide of all 20 x 24 Polaroid use.”


“It grew out of the sort of spirit and research kind adventurism that Dr. Land prompted,” says John. “Dr. Land, of course, was the founder of Polaroid and was always adventurous in terms of the kinds of things he liked to do with research. And Polaroid film, even though it had always been manufactured very large, was only sold in its largest format of 4 x 5 inches. So Dr. Land got this great idea to show off the quality of the film in its large state, even though it was already made large, and so he commissioned his research and engineering staffs to create a camera that could actually take a picture 20 x 24 inches.”


The camera has been used by a wide variety of artists and photographers including William Wegman, Chuck Close, Sarah Charlesworth, Ellen Carey, Sandi Fellman, Anna Tomczak, Mary Ellen Mark, Amanda Means, Lyle Ashton Harris, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Tim Mantoani and, of course, John and Jennifer themselves. Some well-known subjects photographed with the 20 x 24 camera include the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, Charles Moore, and Helena Bonham-Carter for Kraken Opus’s Vivian Westwood shoot. Reactions from artists and subjects vary but there is often a sense of wonder at the images generated by the camera and the camera itself. “One artist compared it to photographing with a refrigerator and another artist, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, said it was kind of a combination of an armoire and a Volkswagen, which is kind of endearing,” recalls John. “It can be quite intimidating to have it not only in front of you but to be photographed by it,” says Jennifer. “In fact, last night we worked a benefit for City Harvest and I’d say at least one out of every ten people that came by wanted to actually have there picture taken standing next to the camera.” John agrees, “As if it were a monument of sorts.”

Leave a Reply

  • Major Funding Provided By

    CPB Logo
  • National Broadcast Sponsors

    CTCA Logo
  • National Partners

    NPR American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
  • Charity Navigator Logo