After the success of his book “Polaroid Hotel”, renowned photographer and director Patrick Hoelck is looking towards the future. The feedback he got from his book and from the attendees of his exhibitions inspired him to create the app Patrick Hotel. Similarly to Instagram, the app lets the user edit and share photos, but unlike the world famous application, Patrick Hotel lets the user transform their photos into Polaroids by featuring filters personally created by the artist. In addition to the sharing aspect, the app also allows the user to immerse themselves in Hoelck’s world, accessing unseen information about the famous Polaroids shots included in the book Polaroid Hotel.
We were able to have a conversation with Patrick Hoelck where we talked about his latest creation, photography, and the effect of the digital age on his craft.
I like the unpredictability... and Polaroids kind of define an unpredictable return. You shoot a Polaroid you rarely are certain of what was coming. A lot of my work is so precise and driven by studio, and lighting and technique, so it became so exciting to shoot a Polaroid and not know what was gonna happen, to not have control.
How did you get the idea to translate Polaroid Hotel into an app?
So we had a successful book, in the analog world called Polaroid Hotel, where we did shows and a publication. And then I was messing with technology and thought that if we had the book in an app formation we could add things like commentary. There were people asking me the story behind an image. So what’s cool about Polaroid Hotel the App is that I can cover story of every image.
How does it work?
So there’s different features. So one feature is that anyone can shoot a Polaroid of anything through their camera phone. Another feature is that you can turn any of your camera roll into a Polaroid immediately. And then I got filters that I thought were interesting. You know it’s normally a tech company, this was me building filters on a computer, I gave filters that I actually created. And then there’s also the book, which has commentary that’s never been heard before, kind of a peak of what was going on when I took the images in the book, as a separate function.
What are your thoughts on the instant gratification that camera phones and Instagram give us nowadays?
That’s a great question. I don’t know, I like the instant access to any of my content so, I guess I’ve adjusted pretty quickly to the modern world, you know. I find myself like anybody else, not wanting to go anywhere and to look at a thing real fast. But I am also concerned with where is it going. It is very noisy, it gets to a point where you’re wondering… it seems like all the new kids, like the youngsters are going back to beta, they are shooting film, and analog, they are buying records again. I have a theory that the instantaneousness is going to change with the next generation is probably going to be like “why did you have to disclose everything, like where you are eating lunch on Instagram.”
Do you think that the access to camera phones and to apps like Instagram have made everyone a “photographer”? Do you think that the term has changed meaning?
No, it’s not. It’s kinda the same in like the music space, where the access to tools is very simple, but good work is still you know in the eye of the beholder. Like great work still exists no matter what tool and instantaneousness follows, I think. I think that in the music business it is very easy to have ProTools but really hard to do a thing that engages a community or the world. Same with everyone is a photographer: you look at a lot of images before you see something that moves you.
What do you think are some of the pros and cons of having editing software so readily available, and high quality camera lenses in our hands all the time?