Neil Ulevich was a photographer working for the AP in Vietnam from 1972 to 1975. He brought a pack-film Polaroid camera with him, and says that in the press corps, “nobody took [it] seriously.” All the same, as a side project, he routinely asked his colleagues—from celebrated journalists to interpreters to the office cleaning lady—to pose for portraits. They’re collected in a new book, The Polaroid Portraits—Indochina 1972–1975, and a trip through the book is a taste not of the Vietnam landscape we’ve always seen but the working life of the guys (and a scattering of women) in the bureaus: polyester shirts, beat-up Nikons on neck straps, lots of facial scruff, and, frequently, the eye of the tiger. (Remember, these are people who made it their business to dive into war zones and return with rolls of film. Some of them didn’t make it home, either.) Hunter Thompson makes an appearance. Being that two of my major obsessions are the history of the press and the history of Polaroid, I can’t get enough of this. Buy yourself one.
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