My Love-Hate Relationship with Polaroid Photography

News, Photography / Thursday, January 21st, 2016


It really isn’t Polaroid photography although most of my instant shooters are Polaroid vintage cameras that use either Fuji or Impossible Project film. I currently have ten instant cameras and more of them than digital cameras. I love using them because I have to slow down and consider my lighting and composition to a much greater extent since each click of the shutter costs money in film. This is also what I hate about using my cameras–film isn’t cheap.

My favorites are my SX-70s and my Spectras. They are just cool cameras and offer a level of control that I never appreciated in what is possible with integral film prints. The fact that their iconic design never really goes out of style is just icing on the cake. At $3 a shot, I have to make every click count. I have wasted a lot of film in the last month but I’m getting better and my artistry is really starting to show as my knowledge of the cameras improves.

Since getting my first Polaroid integral film camera as a Christmas gift (my wife is the absolute best and the pack film Land cameras don’t use the same famous self-contained film), I was able to take the plunge and discover the artistic joys of Polaroid style film as recreated by the Impossible Project. The colors, soft focus, and nuances in the way the film develops just provide for results that no other medium can match. Each print is a self-contained, original photograph, completely framed, matted, and protected–a ready-made keepsake that delights both young and old. Mastering the camera and literally making photos becomes addictive in a way that just isn’t possible through digital photography and harkens back to a time before megapixels and memory space when photography was less of a technical obsession.

Even in the last days that Polaroid film was being mass produced, it remained profitable although analog camera sales were falling rapidly as a result of digital camera adoption. Still, demand for analog film remained strong and the Impossible Project stepped in when Polaroid exited and has benefitted from a consistent demand that continues today as they successfully reengineer new recipes for compatible film. Those of us who love the medium pay a premium to enjoy it and as the film continues to develop and diversify, I can only hope that it becomes cheaper over time.

To steal a phrase from the late, great Rick James: Instant photography’s a hell of a drug.

And I am hooked.


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