Charles Purvis

Charles Purvis is a photographer currently based in Portland, OR. For 25 years, he worked as a commercial photographer in New York. In addition to commercial assignments, he’s created a large body of innovative work inspired by a curiosity and desire to uncover the creative potential of camera, light, film and composition to challenge visual perception. 


Polaroid film was an integral part of the pre-digital 4×5 workflow. I’ve made thousands of them, each an intermediate step in the process towards a final image. Lacking technical perfection, they exist as singular image-objects – unique in tone, contrast, color, and imperfection -beautiful and alluring in their own right. Given time the Polaroid, due to its unstable chemistry, evolves or devolves the image with both predictable and random outcomes. Created as artifacts of process these Polaroids exist as sovereign objects, yet their evolution is still ongoing: what was process is in process.

The images of these Polaroids interpret subject by utilizing several of the 4×5 camera’s attributes, both physical and process-based. These include multiple exposure, altering and rephotographing Polaroid negatives, and placing objects within the camera as block-out forms or compositional elements. They were originally exposed in the early 1990’s.

To view more of Charles Purvis’s work please visit his website.