Yesterday, I watched the “Time Zero: The last year of Polaroid film” documentary. A great movie for those who want to know the story of Polaroid and how The Impossible Project managed to bring back instant film for Polaroid users. You can visits the official site here.
I “discovered” instant film during the past year, by purchasing the Fuji Instax Wide camera, and soon I got addicted to it. I know own three Polaroid cameras, one SX-70 and two Spectras, and I also use a Fuji PA-145 instan film back with my large format camera.
There are several interviews in the movie from people who used Polaroid film for years and they explain the reasons why they love instant film.
In a digital era, using instant film may seem out of date, since with the smartphones you can instantly take a picture and share it with everyone, but it is really the kind of the medium that makes Polaroid unique. Holding a printed photo in your hands is something that for me is a quite different experience and although this may not appeal to anyone, I have witnessed first hand the effect it creates.
The look of a Polaroid photo is unique, you never really know what to expect until you view it fully developed, and there is no room for editing as soon as it ejects for the camera. Sure, you can scan it and post process it, but the physical medium cannot be altered, and you can always see the positive reaction of a person when you give him the photo.
A few weeks ago I was on a photo trip when a couple asked me to take a picture of them with their DSRL. After that, I picked up my Polaroid camera and asked if I could take a photo. They agreed, I took the shot, and I handed them the photo. I could instantly see the expressions on their faces as they watched the photo developing and the fact that they had in a matter of minutes the printed photo in their hands was something they really enjoyed. We had a short conversation, they thanked me and leaved with their photo. This is a social interaction that the Polaroid can create, and it’s quite different than a social media chat.
I am in my early forties, so maybe the fact that I grew up in a more “analog” era make me more old fashioned in a way, but still I love the digital revolution. I have used computers for 30 years (my first one was the Sinclair Spectrum with the huge 48K memory !) and was using the Bulleting Board System (BBS) before the Internet revolution, so I am very well into technology. I started getting seriously involved in photography using digital cameras, film was something I discovered later.
Today, digital cameras have evolved to a point where you can produce stunning captures and with software like Photoshop you can create pretty much anything you can imagine. I am still shooting film but I have limited it to large format and 6×7 since these formats can give a different look due to the different crop factor (and the movements in the case of a view camera). I use my digital cameras more often now (cost and convenience plays also a significant role) but I believe that both analog and medium have a place in my workflow. The ever lasting digital vs film discussions are really beyond me, I’ve done my comparisons in the past and I really see no reason anymore to compare such different mediums. In this hybrid workflow I have chosen, instant film has become a favorite medium, and I really hope it will be available in the future for those of us who enjoy using it.
(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.