The Polaroid Camera was one of the most innovative inventions of the 20th century. In 2008 Polaroid’s announcement that it was abandoning film came as a major shock to many. Some devotees can even remember exactly where they were when they heard the news, as if it were a major historical moment.
Still, some wouldn’t have it. A group of obdurate men purchased the old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands to start “The Impossible Project.” The project aims to restart production of instant film by 2010.
For me, watching a Polaroid picture develop is like watching a memory replay before your eyes. The images appear out of a hazy nothingness and gradually form into a beautiful but imperfect picture. The photographs perfectly mirror the imperfections of both our lives and our memories.
The reason Polaroid ceased film production was due to the popularity of digital imaging. I take thousands of pictures with my digital camera and can’t argue with the convenience and clarity of modern photography.
But of those digital pictures, 99 percent of them sit on my hard drive as raw numbers, never to be produced, displayed or shared with anyone. With instant film you never make the choice of whether a picture is worthy of printing or the trash. You get a print every time, whether you like it or not.
Even if the lighting isn’t perfect or someone is making a silly face, we can’t delete Polaroid pictures. But that’s life, we can’t delete any of it, and chances are we’ll find our Polaroid pictures in a box or under our beds years later and be thankful that we have it, bad lighting, silly faced and all.