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Local photographer Grant Hamilton doesn’t like to tell people about his other profession — he is also a UI Hospitals and Clinics facial plastic surgeon.

“I think people impose their own value on that,” he said.

The artist has been part of a limited but recent trend in photography worldwide, but he acknowledges that some may judge his art to be a hobby rather than half of a dual career.

“They stick the ‘just’ into it,” he said.

Hailing originally from Arlington Heights, Ill., Hamilton displayed his artistic eye while attending the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and majoring in industrial design. He graduated in 1991, then decided to move into medicine in 1994; he has been at the UIHC since 2005.

He became interested in photography in 2004 after the birth of his daughter, and he taught himself the art through trial and error. Using digital photography at first, he soon realized that there was something important missing.

“[Digital photos] kind of lacked some character or what other people call it, say, lacking some soul,” he said.

In 2006, after becoming more interested in abstract imagery, Hamilton switched to Polaroid; he bought his first Polaroid camera and began posting his work online.

“I think the best design comes from constraints — with the digital stuff, you have so much freedom, but there is no truth in it,” he said.

Whatever that truth in Hamilton’s pictures might have been, it certainly caught the attention of various art galleries, magazines, and even the retail industry. Although relatively unknown in the local arts scene, he has gained fame in the rest of the country and in Europe and has displayed his Polaroids in such cities as New York, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.

His work has been reviewed in global photo-art magazines, and he is on the brink of having his designs printed by urban outfitters T-shirt supplier Oh Snap. Hamilton is also currently with Apple Inc. to use his designs for iPhone wallpapers.

Introduced in 1948, instant photography cameras have mostly become a thing of the past. In 2008, Polaroid officially announced that it would cease production of all SX70 film, and Fujifilm is the only supplier in the United States. Progress is being made by an Austrian entrepreneur and 12 former Polaroid employees in the Netherlands. They hope to replicate the chemicals that were used to produce SX70 film at an old Polaroid plant.

Hamilton himself is in the process of finishing a documentary, Time Zero, dedicated to the emerging medium and the few artists who practice it.

Professional art curator Shalee Cooper, who showcased Hamilton’s work in January 2009 at the Saans Gallery in Salt Lake City, said Hamilton’s work was so innovative that the venue kept his exhibit on display for the entire month. The gallery followed the successful show with another of the same medium that displayed five other artists.

“It was like eye candy,” Cooper said. “He’s composing an image that is very deliberate that it makes you think about every shot. He’s out searching for the beauty in the mundane.”

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