David Hockney

During his feedback for Assignment 4, my tutor suggested that I look at the Polaroid work of David Hockney. WOW.

Hockney explains being disinterested in photography because he felt that the frozen moment was unreal (1). He describes feeling that a photograph doesn’t have life in the way that a painting or drawing might do. He compares the hours a painting may take relative to the time to produce a photograph. He Describes that difference as being visible to him. (Detour: I can’t argue with Hockney about how long it takes to expose the actual photograph. But if you look at the work of for example Gregory Crewdson, there is a huge amount of time spent preparing the set ready to be photographed. End of detore).

He experimented with a Polaroid camera and using 30 photographs of his house he prepared a collage. He describes time appearing in the picture.

David Hockney. ‘Nicholas Wilder studying Picasso. Los Angeles 24th March 1982. 1982

My Versions of a David Hockney Polaroid

The technique I used was as follows:

  • Shoot small segments of the overall desired image using a long focal length lens
  • I shot raw but with hindsight, JPEGs would be more appropriate. The system struggles with 30x50MB RAW files!
  • In Lightroom, I squared all the images using the develop sync tools
  • Open as layers within Photoshop
  • I’ve resized all the images using the Photoshop Free Transform tool (holding the shift key)
  • Move the resized images to the top right corner of the window and then built up the composite image from the bottom left by dragging each individual layer into position.


Hockney, D., 1982. Composite Polaroids. Available at: <https://thedavidhockneyfoundation.org/chronology/1982> [Accessed 20 September 2020].

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