Kevin O'Conner


There have been a lot of big changes since I last updated this bio in 2011. For better or for worse, I'm in a very different place in my life than I was back then.

Photography has been one of the few constants—but even that has changed. In 2011, I was fully digital; in fact, I had just bought a new interchangeable-lens camera (a Sony Alpha NEX-5N), after several years of using point-and-shoots. In March of 2013, I bought my first packs of Impossible Project film for the Polaroid SX-70 and Spectra cameras that had been given to me in mid-2010; I have been shooting mainly Polaroid ever since.

I had given up Polaroids in the late 1990s. The lack of sharpness, relatively dull colors, and unpredictable quality of the prints were often quite frustrating—not to mention that the film was relatively expensive. I got better results for less money with 35mm. Unfortunately, I was extremely lazy about getting my exposed film developed; by the time I gave up film for digital, I had accumulated close to a couple dozen (if not more) undeveloped rolls.

But, as time went on, I increasingly found digital images to be too clean. When I bought my NEX-5N, one of my lens purchases was a 35mm lens designed for 16mm. The slight vignetting and fuzzy edges added character to the photos I shot with the lens. I like it so much that I almost never use either of the kit lenses the camera came with.

So, when I resumed taking photos with Polaroids, the things that I used to hate about the format became the things I embraced. The occasional lack of clarity, the sometimes funky colors, and the general unpredictability of the results all provided Polaroid photography with the sense of adventure often missing from digital photography. Also, the ever-changing quality of the ever-evolving Impossible Project films means that I never know exactly what I'm going to get when I press the shutter release.

My renewed emphasis on Polaroid photography has had two unexpected benefits. One is that, because the film is rather expensive (about three bucks a photo), I'm more choosy about what I photograph. The other is that my photos on Flickr have been viewed more times in the last nine or ten months than they were during the preceding seven years. (The number of views hit 150,000 in September 2013; as of today, the figure is at 352,157.)

Another big change is that I have been writing more. I have participated in National Poetry Writing Month twice now (2013 and 2014). As a result, I recently published my first collection of poetry, Separation Anxiety, in e-book form through Smashwords. The print edition should be available later this month; both print and e-book editions also include 24 of my Polaroids. In the meantime, I'm already working on a second collection.

There are undoubtedly more changes to come, with all the unpredictability that accompanies change. But, for now, a few good things are coming out of it all.

(12 July 2014)