The vintage bellows camera pointed at the Parthenon was somewhat hard to miss. It looked like a prop. A piece left behind by some period production, filming atop the Acropolis. It looked so wrong and yet so weirdly right. Attached to the back of the accordion-like lens, was an (also vintage, but more recent) polaroid set-up.
Why not happen upon a hundred year old camera in the shadow of a nearly 2500 year old structure?
Why should the bellows camera with the polaroid back, make any less sense than the pole-mounted selfie cams toted by hordes of tourists, including me?
My mind goes places when I travel. Perhaps the camera belonged to an errant time traveler. He’d be posing as a quirky modern hipster photographer, but just as a cover. It’s important to have a cover. Especially now that scientists are mining Twitter for signs of time travelers.
Maybe the Acropolis was the portal? Maybe the camera was the controller? Was the photographer meeting anyone else here? Who else knew?
Maureen, my friend from Travel Blonde, couldn’t resist chatting up the owner of the camera, Peter Knight (he’s @Peter_W_Knight on Twitter if you are a scientist trying to catch people from the future, hanging out in the past). Peter and his girlfriend have been on a world tour that reads a lot like time travel, told by the trail of polaroids peeled in their wake.
I swear I wasn’t trying to capture a photo of Peter and his girlfriend, but the Autographer camera that I was wearing did catch this one shot, sans Peter’s head. Coincidence? I’m still not convinced he’s really from our era, despite the fact that his girlfriend was lobbying to get a little shopping in before leaving Athens.
Peter shoots on expired Polaroid film. You never know where you’ll land, what images you are going to get when you fly this way. This is the exciting part.
In our digital era of single-click instant gratification and a thousand “vintage” filters, this swapping of artifice for sheer serendipity is a big gulp of cold country air. Shocking and delightful.
Peter has taken some spectacular photos on Polaroid film. I especially love the ones shot in New York City, though I cannot wait to see more of what he has shot in Athens.
I’m in love with his unpredictable images. Timeless and strange, they’re practically a poem, dedicated to wanderlust and the conflicting senses of presence and alienation that the unfamiliar brings.
The best travels take you outside of yourself, outside of your era as well.
Magic either happens or it doesn’t on the road. Magic doesn’t have time to fuss over a filter. Let’s all send our expired Polaroid film to Peter Knight and hope he keeps on shooting.