When inventor and scientist Edwin Land’s daughter asked him why she couldn’t see the photograph of her on holiday he had just taken, he started work on providing an answer. In 1948, he wheeled out the Polaroid Land Model 95, the world’s first instant camera.
Land’s camera was expensive, limiting the market, but eventually the development process became simpler and more affordable and the phenomenon took off. In 1963, Polaroid introduced the first colour instant photographs and by the 1970s, the magic cameras were conquering the world. Social occasions all around the globe would be documented by the Polaroid; its portability and instant gratification were precursors to the digital age.
Eventually the popularity of the digital camera would relegate its analogue counterpart to the retirement village. But you can’t keep a good idea down.
Fujifilm would keep the fire burning, and, against all odds, instant cameras made a comeback bringing a whole new array of features with them.
There’s no better tool you want at a party or a wedding. Capitalising on the trend of nostalgia that had given new life to records and even typewriters, folk are once again becoming enchanted by the charm of an instant camera.
After all, it really is impossible to replace the magic of watching an image you’ve just taken slowly develop right before your eyes.
Fun things to do with an instant camera
When was the last time you printed a photo from a digital camera? Most of our memories these days are stored on a hard drive and put into a bottom drawer. There are so many great reasons for owning an instant camera – having a physical end product in your hand straight off the bat is a great experience.
For those who want the instant gratification but don’t want the spontaneity, Bluetooth instant cameras enable the user to shoot a picture on a smartphone, decide whether they like it or not or play with some filters, and then print once they’re happy. But once you have a camera in hand, what can you do with it?
Now this is all too easy on your smartphone and let’s be fair – it doesn’t look that great. However, applying the same technique with an instant camera and taking three or four in a sequence delivers great results.
It could be an event, a party or a gradual accumulation of family life, but once collated and mounted on a wall, there really isn’t anything quite like a gallery wall of instant camera photos. And they prove to be great conversation starters!
Instant cameras deliver photos with a vintage aesthetic that is all part of the charm. Do you have a favourite? Scan it and then have it printed poster-sized and then hang it on the wall and wait for all the compliments.
This one, if done well, can look very arty indeed. Use six photos to make up one portrait – the effect is excellent.
Jump in and get instant!
Are you ready to join the instant revolution or looking to rekindle your love for these quirky fun cameras? Here are three cracking cameras to get you clicking.
Fuji Instax Mini 11
Drenched in style, the slim Instax Mini II features an automatic exposure setting, so no more manual fiddling to get the lighting right and built-in flash means perfect shots in low light conditions. Pull out the lens and you have the Selfie Mode ready to snap to your heart’s content!
Canon Inspic S Bluetooth Instant Camera
Designed to look more like a traditional compact camera, there’s some cool technology at play here. You can take a photo on your smartphone, touch it up or retake and then send it to Canon Inpic S to print. And for the money conscious, the photos are printed not using ink, but cost-effective ZINC photo paper. Once printed, peel off the back and stick your photos on your bestie’s forehead!
Polaroid Onestep 2
One for the traditionalists here with an instant camera designed to encapsulate the nostalgic design of a classic Polaroid but operating with the latest instant camera technology for perfect pictures. And the best bit? With only a few buttons for operation, even the kids can use it.
Polaroids in popular culture
In Back to the Future (1985), Marty McFly watches a Polaroid image of him with his sibblings disappear.
The excellent Memento (2000) finds Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) struggling to recall his memory and using Polaroids to assist in the task.
The cover of Talking Heads’ 1978 album More Songs About Buildings and Food features hundreds of Polaroid pictures used to form an image of the band.
Outkast’s smash hit Hey Ya! contains the memorable line, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture!”