Cape May Photos From Polaroid VanGogh

How did these Cape May photos come to be and my love affair for Cape May begin? I’ll tell you how.  Polaroid Van Gogh that’s me by the way.

I graduated from The Art Institute of Philadelphia in 1994 with a degree in Photography and from the moment I graduated I was already locked into a technique of hand manipulating Polaroid pictures and printing them large scale on canvas, paper and fabrics. I had quite a bit of success selling them for over 20 years.

It was my whole identity until Polaroid stopped making the film, I ran out and I couldn’t shoot Polaroids anymore. I still had about 1200 finished little Polaroids, I could have solo shows for 30 years if I wanted, but I needed to shoot pictures to satisfy that hunger for creating images that burned in my soul. My Nikon wasn’t turning me on, the new Polaroid film available was horrible and I was at a loss for how I would continue to be creative and relevant.

It was a dark time, I thought the dream is over until Nancy came along with an IPhone.  I was still a little anti technology and anti Photoshop–a hard-line old school guy.

Some years back my wife Nancy was looking for a spot we could go to for 4 or 5 nights down the shore to relax and decompress, have a few drinks, eat some good food, swim in the Ocean and just love life. I’m a jersey boy, raised in South Jersey, Nancy a Philly girl from Manayunk. We both have been going to the Jersey shore our whole lives to places like Ocean City, Sea Isle, and Wildwood.

Nancy was checking out places in Cape May; B&Bs and I was a little hesitant, not knowing much about how Cape May worked and thinking it may be a little too stuffy and snooty for us. She said “yeah but look at the owner of this place, he looks like a fun guy and not stuffy at all!”  So I check out the picture on the website of The Carroll Villa Hotel and there’s Mark Kulkowitz with welcoming open arms and a big grin and said yeah he looks cool so let’s book it and we did and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

At the time I was walking dogs in Gladwyne for extra loot and there are lots of old homes and buildings and I was testing out this shooting technique with them with a finished look in mind and I was getting nice results.

Once we got over the bridge into Cape May and I looked around at the Victorian houses everywhere I knew that this technique and these beautiful pieces architecture were going to be a match made in heaven. Cape May was perfect timing as well for me creatively.

At a time when everyone and everything was was now shot with an Iphone. I was still a Polaroid guy who manipulated his photos with a hairdryer and shaved down take out Chinese food chopsticks,  I was searching for anything to excite my creative juices so I said let me try this out and see what I can come up with that stays close to the style or feel I was doing with my Polaroid Van Gogh stuff.

I started experimenting with and became hooked on the Iphone when we went to Cape May.  I shot my first Victorian house which was The Carroll Villa when a big bright firework of creative juices went off in my head, the technique would work. I was saved! I could create images again like PolaroidVanGogh.

It became even more inspiring when I, a lover of history and architecture and architects, found out that some of my favorite Philly buildings were built by the same man who designed more than 30 buildings in Cape May. That man was Stephen Decatur Button and the Philly/ Cape May connection fascinates me and I can’t get enough of it. I feel I have just scratched the surface of the endless number of possible images around me when I’m in Cape May and I hope to shoot them all.

Thank you Cape May and a big thanks to Pam and Mark and everyone at The Carroll Villa for all your awesomeness!

Come check out my work in the front room and main dining room at The Mad Batter Restaurant and Bar till December 8th and stay for a drink or a bite, it just might change your whole outlook too.

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  1. nicole coyle
    November 30, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    that’s great, john! so wonderful to love what you do and share it. cape may is such a special place and through your art you give us yet another perspective of this beautiful town. happy holidays! nicole

  2. Matthew Loeber
    December 1, 2016 / 9:26 am

    Thanks so much for the lovely comment Nicole! Cape May is a very special place and it really makes it all worthwhile knowing that my photos are giving you a different perspective of this amazing little town. You saying that makes this project all worthwhile, because that was one of my intents, to give people a different look, which is very hard to do since this town and these houses have been photographed over and over and over again and it’s very hard to find a look that will make them seem different than the thousands of photographs done before them. So your comment really made my day and made the journey that still continues worthwhile!!! Thanks so much Nicole and happy holidays to you and yours! ❤️