Tom Bianchi Fire Island Pines 1975-1983 Polaroids & more…
2013. Renowned photographer Tom Bianchi captured a moment in Pines history with his celebrated book. In the mid 70’s Tom Bianchi was a young lawyer in Manhattan. He moved to New York to be closer to the Pines where he rented a house every summer for several years. At an executive conference in Miami he was given a toy- an SX-70 Polaroid camera. After taking a few pictures of flamingos in the hotel garden. He took the camera to the Pines started making a photographic journal of the life there. In that era many with a Pines beach house and a job in New York felt the need to lie about where they had gotten their tans. Having said “I was at the beach on Long Island” gave about 120 miles of heterosexual beach as a cover. Because many lived in the closet photographs posed a threat. They could be used against you. Your job could be lost, your life ruined.
1970. Fresh out of Law school, working for a large firm he was invited out to Fire Island Pines for a weekend. On a beautiful summer day he took the ferry across the Great South Bay. He arrived at the harbor and took the long boardwalk to the east end to Sail walk. His hosts house sat on stilts atop a dune with an ocean view. Naked, with the bodies out of the physique magazines of his youth the weekend would be a blur of suntan bodies, dance floors tightly packed with bare torsos, lithe bodies dancing on tables at Tea, and lantern lit dinners on a deck overlooking the sea. That weekend he fell in love…he was home.
He would lay out the instant Polaroids for everyone to see as he made them. At first he shot the subjects without identity to ensure anonymity for those who needed it, focusing on atmosphere.As time passed, friends became comfortable with the smiles on their faces being recorded. He quickly saw he had the makings of a book. People who saw what he was doing came to welcome him camera in hand.
The Photographer in action with the subject.
This book is a historical testament to the aura of Fire Island Pines. The perfect gift for someone who loves the Pines. Available in book stores & online.
Initially he didn’t have the courage to ask anyone to do nudes. That changed one afternoon in September of 1975. Alone on a beach shooting seashells he looked up to see a man he lusted after for years approaching. he asked what he was doing. He showed him the shell pictures. “You know what you should be shooting?” We should go back to your place and make dirty pictures.” They did, and the rest is history…
The photo’s continue on as a voice on a journey being exhibited in galleries around the world. Here in London at The Fahey/Gallery booth (B1) at Photo London (Somerset House, London) May 17 – 20, 2018, and Miami in 2019.
The Picture | The Story:
Untitled, 710 “I was documenting life in the Pines with a Polaroid SX – 70 camera in the mid-70s and early 80s, with the intention to show the world the reality and beauty of the queer community that was largely hidden then. Being out was a serious concern for many of us. The instant nature of the Polaroids allowed us all to see the pictures as I made them. Subjects could see that I was making pictures that honored our lives, not something that could be used for blackmail. As a result, I was free to record our lives in the Eden we created beyond the borders of an America that was hostile to us.
I saw the Polaroids as miniature paintings. This image (untitled, 710), recalled a color field painting – a Diebenkorn perhaps, with vital information at the edge of composition.” Tom Bianchi, 2018 @tombianchi #tombianchi@photolondonfair #polaroid #photography #fireisland #fireislandpines #1975 #1983 #queer #fineart #fineartphotography #availableatfkg #faheykleingallery#fkg #photolondon #2018 #somersethouse #london #polaroidsx70 @polaroid