Polaroids: Jamie Ho

August 17 2014

In theory, regardless of subject matter, a good image is made by the careful consideration of line, composition and light combined with a little technical ability. But in practice, most contemporary photographers we consider talented are masters of just one of the three. Take Juergen Teller, for instance, who is indifferent to lighting and line, but downright brilliant at good composition. Or Cindy Sherman, who leaves technical considerations to skilled assistants while she fine-tunes narrative.

Jamie Ho’s work falls squarely into the “light” camp. And while she’s certainly not indifferent when it comes to line or composition, her manner of interpreting its subtleties and nuance is stunning. She can talk at length about regional light like a sommelier talks French wine—Gulf light is heavier than great Great Lakes light, New Mexico has the all-round best light, and how she appreciates Hong Kong’s pollution because it makes for particularly pleasing portraits.

While she primarily shoots work with a social bent (her most recent exhibition, “Goat Town,” explored new domesticity and middle class displacement in southeastern China), it’s her Polaroid work—all shot on a classic 103, mostly on expired 669 stock—that captivated us.

Ho’s photography is a refreshing break from the legions of tidy Instagram feeds filled with bold, contrasty colors, slick symmetry, and all manner of “check out how cooool I am” pretense. Instead, her work serves as a visceral, honest document of human experience—poignant, reflective observations from a huge and sometimes overwhelming world.

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These Polaroids are a selection from a much larger series shot across the USA, from New Mexico to downtown Detroit and the Deep South to her native Gulf Coast Florida. She currently resides in Madison, WI.

Follow Jamie on Instagram.