The Polaroid Big Shot is an early 70s camera that had a fixed focal length, an aperture of f/29 and used Polaroid series 100 pack films. Because of its fixed focal length focusing was done by physically moving yourself (along with the camera) back and forth to your subject; a dance that became known as the “Big Shot Shuffle”. Even though it was popularized by Andy Warhol it only saw production until 1973.
I bought mine at a Newspace Center for Photography swap meet, in the original box, along with an instruction manual. What was missing were flash cubes; but more exact – Magicubes. Now just so you know Magicubes are not the same as regular flash cubes even though they look almost the same. Regular flash cubes uses an electrical circuit to fire the flash while Magicubes uses a firing pin which chemically fires the flash.
During a shoot in St. Johns I found myself running low on Magicubes but luckily Blue Moon Camera and Machine had some in stock. Tucked away in their attic I purchased the rest they had on hand and proceeded with my shoot. One needs LOTS of Magicubes to fuel this thing. I was shooting Fuji FP-100c which provided 8 shots per pack and each cube only gave 4 shots if the cube was in perfect condition. I was quickly running out of cubes.
About this time I had read about someone doing a hack by attaching their flash directly to the Big Shot and thought if they got a flash to work I can get a Pocket Wizard (a remote flash trigger) to work. The trick was to purchase a flash adapter that was used on another camera system to convert the mechanical turns of the Magicube to close an electrical circuit.
The hardest part was taking apart the flash adapter to get at the wires inside. Once exposed it was easy to solder those wires to a hot shoe adapter.
I didn’t want to have the wires in the way of the Big Shot shutter release so I had to glue the hot shoe adapter in such a way that the pocket wizard faces the subject. Not too big a deal; just remember to plug the pocket wizard in so the controls face the subject.
Also about this time I was asked to shoot a wedding and was given carte-blanch on how to shoot it. So yes, I did decide to shoot part of it using the Polaroid Big Shot with off-camera lighting no less. One light was chosen and was placed high above the camera, without a modifier. I didn’t want to replicate the almost on-axis direction a Magicube’s light would have given me even though that would’ve been closer to how an original Big Shot setup would have been done. Below are a few examples from using the Polaroid Big Shot at a wedding. Notice that because of the fixed focal length you have to squeeze your subjects together so that they fit in the frame.
Sometimes even test shots turn out cool. The bride really liked this one.
I shot several packs and it was lots of fun; not only for me, but also for the bride, the groom, and their families.
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