Emily Earl, a native of Savannah, unveiled a series of images entitled “Late Night Polaroids” this past Thursday night at Safe//Sound. The collection included nearly forty black and white images taken by Earl with her polaroid camera. She focuses her attention on the young late night crowds that flock to downtown bars.
The exhibition employs a mix of print sizes and even features photographs hanging in windows, reminiscent of downtown window displays at bars such as the Jinx. The larger images seem to call out the personalities and archetypes that fuel the energy of the night, while within the grids of smaller images, more intimate moments are found. “I try to stay aware of my surroundings, to sense the moment that’s about to happen,” said Earl, and it’s in the collection of small prints that this ability shines.
A grouping of ‘couple pictures’ is a true highlight of the show. Earl captures the genuine dynamics of these pairs, even when the couples are decked out in Halloween costumes. Placing the images next to each other only heightens the depths that the images reveal.
While the ease Earl’s subjects have with her indicates that she is part of the nightlife world, the images also reflect her objectivity. Perhaps this relationship comes from the fact that back when Savannah let underagers into bars, Earl was with her camera at venues like the Velvet Elvis. “I guess taking pictures late at night has always been a necessary part of the nightlife experience for me,” Earl said.
Like her inspirations Weegee and Brassai, Earl is capturing the energy of the night in heavy flash. While Earl is a native to the city, the recognizable faces from haunts such as Hangfire and the now defunct Sparetime are the only tells that this body of work was photographed in Savannah. These images seem to be documenting youth culture in all its gritty, splendor. It could be in Portland, LA, San Fran, or some corner of Brooklyn, but instead it’s here.
Check out Emily Earl’s exhibition at Safe//Sound. Open January 31-Feb 2 from 12-5pm. Earl will have a polaroid photobooth set up in the gallery for $5.