Amsterdam Polaroids


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Selling Polaroid Portraits in the Bars of Amsterdam, 1979-80
The Red Light District

Marc H Miller & Bettie Ringma

Even artists on an idyll in Europe have to make money. Bettie and I found a lucrative gig selling instant photo portraits in the bars and clubs of Amsterdam. Every night we headed out for 4 or 5 hours seeking customers in Amsterdam's entertainment districts. Although at first we were not sure we would succeed, in retrospect I can see our success was virtually assured. Dutch art history is full of portraits done in bars and taverns, but apparently we were the first to update this tradition with instant photographs. Our Polaroid camera was a money machine fueled by alcohol; each photo sold for 6 guilders (approx. $3) and we usually took more than 50 pictures a night. We were soon a fixture of the city's nightlife with many regular customers eager to get new pictures whenever we happened to cross their path.

The Turkish Bar Camlica

Barmaid Christien

With boyfriend Mehmed

With costumers

The Turkish Bar Cascade

Mohamed, Ahmet and Mustafa

A young waiter

Bar Girls Along the Zeedijk

Hostess at the San Francisco Bar and Disco

Fifi the French Bar Girl at the Mexico Saloon

Tending the Bar at the Hotel Crown

Bar Girls at Café Mascotte

Nettie from Suriname


Café de Zon

Owner Johan and customer

Café de Zon regulars

An odd couple

The muscleman Ko

With Suzanne

Café de Zon Exhibitionists


The Transvestite Bar Madame Arthur


Ricky and Gigi

Portraits of Bar Goers

Café Emmelot

Café Zanzibar

Sister and brother at Café de Waag

Swedish sailors on the Zeedijk

Café de Zon



Brigitte at Café Emmelot

With Marc