Photo gallery: Team USA: Portraits of Olympic dreams
About the photographs
Polaroid film was introduced to the world in 1948 by Edwin Land. It will cease production this year, ending an era. Although digital photography has replaced most traditional methods, the opportunity to work with film, producing one-of-a-kind imagery that cannot be made with a motor drive camera, offers a creative challenge that many photographers will miss once the stockpile of Polaroid film is gone. Los Angeles Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin used a Zone VI, 4-by-5-inch field camera to produce this collection of images of 11 local athletes headed to Beijing to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics. A tripod and a dark cloth draped over the photographers head are used to help achieve sharp focus. It's a slower process than working digitally, but most subjects don't mind, because they recognize the creative process involved with the unique (and dying) art form.