Tests of Time

Shooting portraits is a leap of faith. Sometimes you plan for days and set up for hours, and then the subject arrives and you’ve got them for five minutes. Before I began working with digital cameras, I always took a Polaroid test before shooting on film. It gave me a chance to evaluate the lighting and visualize the composition and body language in the photo. I kept many of these test images over the years, and, interestingly, a lot of them ended up being my favorite photos from those shoots. Athletes and models often let their guard down when the Polaroid was being shot — it was a rehearsal, a practice and always loose. Of course, the worst thing that could happen is when you took the perfect Polaroid knowing you’ll never do it again. Perfect is perfect!

Photos by Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated/Getty Images