“Chimping” on Fire Island…. That’s essentially what photographer Tom Bianchi was doing when he showed his subjects the Polaroids that he was making of gay life in the 70’s on a secluded strip of beach on Long Island called “Fire Island”. In showing them the instant results, he gained the trust of his fellow beach combers as it helped to put some folks at ease who had not come out yet. Using a Polaroid SX70 also helped him to in real time, home in on the rich colors and whimsical layers often seen in his unique vision, a testament to a keen eye that developed into a great style in the work which was done from 1975 to 1983. In once instance, a friend had mailed him a photo of when he was making photos of men building a sand castle on the beach. He was portrayed lying on his back to get a low angle next a row of drying Polaroids stuck by their corner into the sand, like we would now open the photos on our computer’s desktop to view them. Bianchi had a show of his work in one of our local galleries recently, there were originals and prints anywhere from 10x10” to 30x30” for sale and all of them looked fantastic, he did well. Tom wanted to publish a book well before “Fire Island Pines” was released in 2013, but between the disdain of gay lifestyles in the 70’s to the ravages of AIDS that followed, it was just not the right time, especially considering many of the men portrayed in the photos passed away due to the epidemic. So needless to say, I was impressed with Bianchi as much as I was the depth of his work, just a really great guy who finally got to share an amazing body of work that has to be one of the strongest & deeply personal showings of photography I have had the pleasure of seeing. Glad to have my signed copy of the book. I made a portrait of him last week before the work went up on the walls, enjoy!