Taken with Polaroid 680SE using PX600 Silverframe (10*13). Exposure dial set to 1/3 Dark

Photo: Danny Sanchez


MARCH 13-15, 2020

The #PolaConBayArea Schedule

Welcome to PolaCon Bay Area – the first PolaCon outside of North Texas –  presented by Instant Film Society in partnership with SF Instant Photowalk, Glass Key Photo and East Bay Photo Collective. 

Before we get to the nitty-gritty, a word to new and old members of The Instant Film Society and to PolaCon attendees about how IFS’ events roll out: This schedule is past the development stage and is now fixed, yet this “plan” is also fluid and by no means comprehensive – a lot has changed in the past two weeks (which is why we delayed posting the schedule). 

In light of the escalating news that many of us are thinking about, this PolaCon (4.5) will be an exercise in “social distancing” with a slimmer schedule than past PolaCons as a handful of featured photographers/guest speakers have canceled their plans to attend. And that’s totally understandable. 

And there might be even more cancellations the second we post this, and that’s also understandable. But we hope Bay Area attendees aren’t too disappointed by any additional alterations to the schedule. (And we hope to see all our PolaPals in Texas on the last weekend in September for #PolaCon5)

Like the “unofficial” concerts still happening in Austin, Texas, in lieu of SXSW, and the Analogue Spotlight folks at The Photography Show 2020 who are still planning photowalks, smaller gatherings and meet-ups in spite of the larger events’ cancellations, the planning team is not canceling Friday night’s reception for the SF Instant Photowalk crew’s exhibition, nor Saturday’s Zines&Things SwapMeet, nor Sunday’s PolaWalk because the vast majority of the demos, programming and events at those feature Bay Area photographers to begin with, and the PolaCon Bay Area team has been planning for the worst.  (We’ll have extra sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizing stations, and a limited supply of gloves for attendees to wear when handling cameras, film, etc.) 

On that note, the NTX and SF teams have been in contact on a weekly basis up until two weeks ago, when we began communicating daily about the CDC’s and the City of San Francisco’s recommendations for smaller gatherings such as PolaCon so that we can best handle the event for the locals in the Bay Area, where life is still going on as the news catches up, as well as advise any out-of-town travelers still planning to attend. The issue is that all the guidelines and recommendations apply to events drawing hundreds or thousands of attendees (and we have less than 200 RSVP’d attendees, and that’s not counting cancellations). 

Skip to the bottom for our full statement on how to stay safe and keep others safe. 

Obviously, the CDC suggests for anyone who feels sick or has a fever to stay home. Additionally, if you’re in a “vulnerable population” (over 60, or with any preexisting conditions), the CDC is recommending avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people. And while the PolaWalks will be outdoors, some of the meet-ups are in venues with limited space.

For the rest of us, we’ll be advising attendees to avoid touching each others cameras and photos (we know it’ll be hard), and obviously the CDC’s “social distancing” recommendations suggest to stay at arm’s length from each other (pretend you’re taking a Big Shot portrait). And it’s easy to remember to not shake hands, or even fist bump, because we all know not to “shake it.” 

Like when we’re in Denton, to maintain the organic, analog feel of the event, all ‘start’ and ‘stop’ times for workshops, sessions, guest speakers, demos, etc. are flexible and serve more as guideline for presenters and attendees to assemble. So, show up early and stay late. And don’t feel obligated to attend all the events, we encourage spontaneity – from impromptu demos to field trips – feel free to straggle or break off and choose-your-own-adventure at any point and rejoin at the next meet-up location.  

Attendees should check the Instant Film Society’s Instagram account on the mornings of DAY I, II and III for any “official” last-minute additions, deletions or cancellations, which will very limited at this point. 

Do you need to have an instant film camera to attend PolaCon? No, you don’t. But, to participate in the Scavenger Hunts, you will need to borrow or buy an instant film camera. 

Also, speaking of Scavenger Hunts, the guidelines for both will be posted on Instagram when the lists are revealed. (If you have any questions, just ask someone in an IFS shirt.) All entries must be new images shot on instant film this weekend – no old frames. (Seriously, don’t even think about it.) Entries may be shot on any new or expired films from Polaroid, Kodak, FujiFilm, Impossible, Polaroid Originals, etc. will be accepted. And, sorry, no ZINK. (Even if the camera says “Polaroid.”) Also, no digital images printed as film, so, no Instant Lab or Instax Share SP1 Smartphone Printer frames allowed. 

Speaking of film. If you need to stock up, you’ll have the chance to do so on Friday and Saturday when we’ll be hosted by Glass Key Photo at 1230 Sutter Street (between Polk and Van Ness in San Francisco) Check them out here: glasskeyphoto.com and on IG: @glasskeyphoto


DAY I (Glass Key Photo/Chinatown)

3-5 PM: Meet-up & PolaWalk to [TBD] (stay tuned on IG: Meet at Glass key at 3 sharp) 

6-8 PM: Opening Reception: 9 Years of SF Instant Photowalk Pop-Up Instant Film Exhibition 

8-?? PM-ish: Neon, Neon, Neon: Neon-at-Night Chinatown PolaWalk through San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in North America.

DAY II (Murals/Thee Parkside) 

9-12 AM: Mission District Murals PolaWalk 

12-6 PM: Talks, Demos and the Zines & Things SwapMeet

12-12:15 PM: Welcome & Announcements 

12:30 PM: ‘Shake It: Modern Polaroid Love Story’ w/ Megan Jones @msmagswildwood


1 PM: ‘Instant Film, Serious Business’ Analog Forever discussion w/ Michael Behlen,
Niniane Kelley and Danny Sanchez, with a Q&A 

2:30 PM-3:15 PM: ‘3 Polaroid Shooters from the SouthBay Walk in a Bar’ Brian Brooks in discussion w/ Jay Aguilar, Danny Sanchez and Crom Schubarth

4:30 PM Discussion w/ John Erickson – Postcards and Polaroids Show 

5:30 PM Discussion w/ Matthew O’Briena long-time Polaroid enthusiast (he’s a former Polaroid “Creative Uses Consultant”).  More recently, Matthew authored a book of Polaroids, "No Dar Papaya," a photographic exploration of Colombia carried out over 11 years.  To give some background, below are some links to articles about the project: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-striking-polaroids-capture-columbia-popular-media  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/paywam/tender-photos-of-colombias-beauty-amidst-times-of-strife https://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/05/colombia-polaroids-matt-obrien-no-dar-papaya/


12:15 PM: Instax in a 4x5 - Dave Rollins: @cinedar 

2-2:30 PM: Cyanotype Demo - Niniane Kelley: @ninianekelley

3:15-4 PM: Instant Paper Positives w/ Vince Donovan: Learn this inexpensive and fairly quick technique for making positive images on regular photo paper. 

Working with Polaroid 8x10 - Vince Donovan/Brian Brooks 

How to use Polaroid 8x10 film (both new and old).

4 PM: New One Instant Demo - IFS’ co-founder Daniel Rodrigue: @danieltrodrigue 

5 Emulsion Lift Demo -- IFS’ Brian Garbrecht: @theoryofbrian  

DAY III (Ferry Ride & PolaWalks)

Sunday AM TBD 

Sunday’s San Francisco Bay Ferry ride over to Oakland for a Photowalk lead by the East Bay Photo Collective (EBPCO – @eastbayphotocollective). Attendees will take the ferry from San Francisco to Oakland’s Jack London Square. We'll walk from the Oakland Ferry Terminal in a loop through Chinatown and end up at Nido's Backyard. We’ll pass murals, shops and some beautiful historic architecture along the way.

There are two options for you to choose from for the starting point on this walk:
OPTION A: Meet at the San Francisco Ferry Bldg. at 1:15 PM to board the ferry to Oakland.
OPTION B: Meet at the Oakland Ferry Terminal at 1:50 PM. 

5:30 PM-ish “Last Call” Dinner 


Legal mumbo jumbo: Each attendee is responsible for their own actions and behavior to, from and during any Instant Film Society or PolaCon hosted or partnered event, demo, PolaWalk or meet-up, and attendees waive their right to sue any IFS member or any host of these free events, sessions and meet-ups. The Instant Film Society does not accept responsibility and expressly excludes liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for: Any injuries or accidents that occur during the events, or other health issues that arise from traveling to or from the events, or loss or damage to any personal property left unattended during an event organized or hosted by Instant Film Society’s members. Also, be advised that this event and related activities may be photographed and recorded to document the event by a documentary filmmaker and by local media. By attending you agree to allow your likeness to be used for any legitimate documentary purpose by the event organizers or local media.

The Instant Film Society is a registered non-profit and coordinates with other photography groups and camera clubs, as well as area venues, galleries, camera stores and the like, to host instant-film-related meet-ups, workshops and demos for free of charge – no money to enter or participate. Featured photographers however may charge for the cost of film for portraits or to use their film, and RSVP’d attendees are encouraged to bring zines, photobooks, small prints, pin-back buttons to sell or swap with other attendees at Saturday’s Zine & Things SwapMeet at Thee Parkside.

-IFS & SF Instant Photo Walk


A word on social distancing: Authorities decided to allow the Los Angeles Marathon to proceed Sunday as scheduled. But health officials urged spectators to keep six feet away from strangers, the maximum distance at which droplets loaded with any virus from an infected person’s cough or sneeze can fly before falling to the ground. So, keep your distance from strangers and other attendees. 

What are the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s “Social Distancing” recommendations made on March, 6, 2020? 

Other avoiding physical contact and keeping at arm’s length from each other: “at events that are not canceled, ensure the availability of hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues, frequently clean high touch surface areas like counter tops and hand rails, and find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible.” We have done that, and will work to ensure those are held to all weekend. We recommend you keep your cameras (and phones) in cases, bags or pockets and not place them on tables and surfaces that you aren’t certain have been sanitized. 

Specific warnings to certain potential attendees from the CDC & City of SF: 

“Vulnerable populations include people who are 60 years old and older, and people with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease and weakened immune systems. To help protect themselves from virus, vulnerable populations should:

  • limit outings
  • avoid going to gatherings (of about 50 people or more) unless it is essential
  • telecommute if possible, and
  • avoid contact with people who are sick.

From the CDC to encourage your event staff and participants to practice good personal health habits. Promote everyday preventive actionsto help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which include:

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.