In October I found something unusual. Put it another way: Through a selective decision-making process which had me wanting to believe I had discovered something unique and interesting I gave this seemingly innocuous photo what at the time I thought might have been undue consideration. Wedged into the frame of a bus stop sign I found a small Fujifilm Instax print of a woman on the sand at Coney Island. Is it posed? I don’t know but the shot seems at the very least to have been planned by the photographer. The wristband suggests she was at some kind of coördinated gathering, an office party perhaps, or a paid admission event where the wristband served as her ticket for entry and reëntry.
I don’t really care if the shot is posed. What struck me about the find was that it was a film photo left up for grabs at a city bus stop. I don’t even find many film photos at thrift shops anymore, at least I didn’t before the pandemic. When I do they tend to be pre-1990s vintage.
My initial instinct, or rather my initial want, was that someone was distributing photos like this deliberately, keeping the genre of film photography alive for those who know what they see when they see it.
Last week my interest in this renewed when I found another photo of identical format on top of … (wait for it) … a payphone. Atop an abandoned Times Square subway station payphone I found this Fujifilm Instax print, identical in size (about 2″ x 3½”) to the Coney Island print. It may be premature after only 2 of these discoveries but I’m ready to believe someone is methodically leaving Fujifilm Instax film photo prints like these all over town.
At first blush I thought this was an ærial shot from atop a Manhattan skyscraper. Is it? I don’t think so. There is enough darkness to suggest it is an after-dark coastal location with ocean filling most of the frame. Could it be Coney Island again, perhaps this time seen from atop the old Astro Tower? Is it Atlantic City? Miami?
Click on the image to get the jumbo-sized detail, and if you are in NYC keep your eyes open for these small Fujifilm Instax prints being left in public spaces.