When I first moved to New York, one of the first fashion people I met was Douglas Perrett. Our mutual friend, Teen Vogue‘s Jane Keltner, introduced us at his apartment, which was a small studio on Lower Fifth Avenue that was completely wall papered in Polaroid pictures of models. Some were new pictures, some were old, but all of them were taken when the models were brand new faces. Perrett started his own casting company in 2000, and in the decade since he’s amassed thousands of pictures. He edited them down for Wild Things, a limited edition book. I asked him to pick a few of his favorite male Polaroids and answer these questions about the art of Polaroid photography. (For some of his favorite females, including Abbey Lee Kershaw, Aline Weber, Hanne Gaby Odiele and more, jump over to my Vmagazine‘s story on Perrett.)
DEREK BLASBERG First, let’s start with the inscription on this book: “Dedicated to all the teenagers and their dreams.”
DOUGLAS PERRETT I look at models as teenagers and see very few success stories. I think teenagers should not be punished for a decision they made at 14 or 15, when they decided to drop everything and try to make a career as a professional model.
DB So you hang out with a bunch of kids. Do you ever get sick of it and wish there would be a 30-and-over law for modeling?
DP No way. Models in their thirties are way more annoying then models in their teens.
DB Give me some goss: Who’s the most mature teen model you’ve ever worked with? And who is the most immature? Did anyone show up to a shoot with Barbie dolls or something?
DP I’ve seen it all: A photographer injecting a tired model with Adderall. I’ve heard it all, male model gang bangs on the train from Milan to Paris, a sandbox being delivered on set for an underage girl.
DB Wow. That’s exactly the sort of stuff my mom warned me about when I moved to New York. Now tell me about this book. How many Polaroids do you think you own, and where do you store them?
DP I have over 10,000 polaroids archived in large plastic bins from the Container Store. We made an edit of 281 for the book.
DB How did you edit your collection for this book?
DP I was going for that right-off-the-boat look. Their first day in New York, not knowing a lick of English and all they have a is a subway map. That hunger for fame.
DB What I love about Polaroids is the same thing I hate about them: They’re immediate, and they’re finite. You can’t reproduce them. Have you ever lost any valuable or sentimental Polaroids? Or spilled coffee on them, like I have?
DP I loved the Polaroid. I hate how expensive they got, and even more when they were discontinued. As for regrets: I lost or threw out an Irina Lazareanu pre-muse picture, a beefy Channing Tatum shot, and a baby face Doutzen Kroes. And I think a Daria too.
DB Do you still use Polaroids? Or have you converted to digital? What is the future of Polaroids?
DP It’s all digital photos now, lots more to organize. I want to blow my Polaroids up and do a traveling show.
DB Is there an art to the Polaroid? (Andy Warhol thought there was!)
DP I’m self-taught. My Polaroids at the beginning were all out of focus and cropped irregular. But now all my Polaroids are cropped from the chest up, with little space showing above the head. That’s become my crop.
DB What’s your favorite picture in this book?
DP My favorite Polaroid is probably Katie Forgarty. Her neck is so long. And she was so peppy when she came into the office with her mother. I was obsessed by her right away. And I got so much flack for posting her photo online.