New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

A glimpse into ‘Portroids: A 20 Year Retrospective’

NYU student Rick DeMint showcases his Polaroids at Brooklyn Film Camera in Williamsburg.
Trish Sachdev
Polaroid portraits at the Williamsburg camera store, Brooklyn Film Camera. (Trish Sachdev for WSN)

A Portroid is a Polaroid portrait that is autographed by its subject as the photo develops. NYU Langone employee and part-time MBA student Rick DeMint debuted an entire gallery full of them.

His newest exhibit, “Portroids: A 20 Year Retrospective,” showcases 212 Polaroid photos of his favorite celebrities, comedians and those in his circle at Brooklyn Film Camera in Williamsburg. The show highlights and celebrates some of his 5,000 photographs from the past 20 years.

“I started in 2003 as a means of just documenting my life and tracking the things I was doing,” DeMint said.

The exhibition takes up an entire wall by the entrance of the camera shop. DeMint used black and white frames for his photographs, organizing them so the wall would look like a giant Polaroid. To the right of the display, a screen shuffles through digital copies of more images.

The project has grown since it began in 2003. Well-known actors and comedians including Andrew Garfield, Olivia Colman and Pedro Pascal are featured, as well as politicians like former President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Some famous NYU alumni are featured on the wall too, such as Donald Glover, a successful singer and actor with the stage name “Childish Gambino,” who graduated in 2006.

Brooklyn Film Camera explains in its Instagram post promoting the show that the project “can be viewed as both a photo journal of popular culture and a time capsule of the first two decades of the 2000’s,” which is certainly true.

Fellow Polaroid photographer Ernesto Puente and marketing manager Mark Guzman, both regulars at Brooklyn Film Camera, attended the show’s opening night celebration.

“I do like how DeMint captured everybody throughout the years and dated a lot of them,” said Guzman.

DeMint gained some traction on Instagram a couple of years ago after posting the Polaroid pictures he took of the “Saturday Night Live” cast in 2013. One of the photos posted at the gallery is a Polaroid of Kate McKinnon, a former SNL cast member, in a blue scarf smiling outside of the studio.

Another memorable photo that is featured is a picture of Robin Williams in January 2010. Attendees found the happy image of the beloved actor a few years before his death touching to see included in the exhibition.

“Some of the polaroids are very eerie,” says Guzman. “You see Robin Williams smiling happily and his signature. It’s unfortunate that he passed.”

This show is unique in both its subject matter and refreshing in attitude. Unlike most photographers, DeMint encourages viewers to take photos of the Polaroids that are featured in the gallery.

“The reason I take these pictures is because the person I am taking a picture of brings me joy,” said DeMint. “My hope with people coming into the gallery is that when they look at the wall, they’ll see someone that has that same feeling, and that they can now connect to me as the person who took the photo.”

“Portroids: A 20 Year Retrospective” is located at Brooklyn Film Camera and will run until Dec. 3.

Contact Liz Lindain at [email protected].

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