Jamie Livingston, a photographer and filmmaker, took a polaroid photo every single day, starting when he was a student in 1979 up until he died of cancer at 41 on October 25, 1997. He called it “Photo of the Day” and for 18 years religiously used his Polaroid SX-70 camera to capture these unassuming, unposed, ordinary memories that eventually became the narrative to the last half of his life.
The fact that they’re all polaroids makes it that much more intimate, one snapshot that isn’t altered, a real moment frozen in time. Some of the images are really beautiful; but more importantly as you browse through the days/the years they slowly reveal his love of music, his budding career in film, evidence of the times through news broadcasts, what he liked to eat, who he was in love with, great friendships, and how he dealt with his illness in the end.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the simple story through the series of casual moments. The snapshots take on even more meaning when you get to the last few frames that show him getting married and dying two days later. The Mental Floss post is worth reading, he puts the entire project into perspective and gives it the narrative it deserves.
After Livingston died, there was a public exhibit and website launched using the photos called JAMIE LIVINGSTON. PHOTO OF THE DAY: 1979-1997, 6,697 Polaroids, dated in sequence. The exhibit opened at Bard College (where Livingston started the series as a student) and included every Polaroid he snapped. It took up a 7 x 120 foot space. It’s very surreal to look at that wall and recognize that almost half of a lifetime is represented there.