Phillip Leeds – Big Shot

Phillip Leeds… a Big Shot

Using the old Polaroid Big Shot camera and calling the book “Big Shots!”,  Phillip Leeds’ new coffee-table book naming convention seemed to make sense. In a weird way. A collection of celebrity portraits, hip-hop artists, and really a diary of sorts for his days as road manager for Kelis and N*E*R*D. He’s never really thought of himself as a ‘photographer’ in the traditional sense. He was just the guy who would always say, “Let’s take a picture.”


© Phillip Leeds


Polaroid Big Shot
© Phillip Leeds


Polaroid Big Shot – Head Shots Only!

Using an extremely inexpensive camera that really was only relegated to head shots seemed the way to go. And, if it was good enough for Andy Warhol, it was certainly good enough for Leeds. I think the Big Shot was $19.95 when new in 1971. Besides hangin’ with Pharrell Williams,  he started working with Billionaire Boys Club, and moving in certain fashion circles. Actually, if you’re not that familiar with Hip Hop, much of these names will be Greek to you. But the images had enough of an impact to make a respected publisher like Rizzoli take the plunge. And the book is thick!



© Phillip Leeds Can you guess the actress?


No Photographer,…But…

Photographer or not, the work was solid and the theme consistent. Phillip was always right there. In his signature glasses, with a joint in one hand and a seemingly complicated vintage camera in the other. Some would say a straight up anti-tech monstrosity. After all, this wasn’t the 70’s anymore. It’s a weirdo Polaroid, and they only made it for one year, 1971. Then they discontinued it because it didn’t sell well. It’s big, it’s bulky and it’s like a toy. A giant plastic weirdo camera that even outdoes Fuji’s “Hello Kitty” Instax mini wonders.



Phillip Leeds showing off his low tech prize.


However, like my low-tech hero, Jonathan Leder, Phillip Leeds sucked every ounce of in your face abilities out of something that even Polaroid viewed as a fiasco.  Kudos to Phillip Leeds.





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