Startup: Say Cheese!

Polaroid: The Choice of 9 out of 10 Blackmailers!

Prior to the onset of digital photography — which seems to have taken over the world now that every mobile phone has a camera built in that can take pictures of a higher quality than an expensive film camera of fifty years ago — if you wanted an instantaneous photograph with which to remember an occasion, you had little choice but to turn to a Polaroid camera.

While these miraculous little cameras may seem to use some sort of black magic to cause their blurry, poorly-exposed photos to appear on the thick cards that were spat out of the camera’s base, the technology was, in fact, quite simple. In essence, the camera simply served as both a camera and a miniature dark-room. Rather than just imprinting the image on a film, it was transferred directly to photographic paper, in much the same way as it would be done from the film in a regular camera when the film was developed. The cartridges of photographic paper were specially designed to contain the film, the negative, the positive, and the fixing agent all as one.

It took quite a few tries for the Polaroid instant cameras to reach the point where they were truly instant, and convenient enough that they might gain some sort of market with sorority girls wishing to immortalize a three-day bender, or with practical jokers wishing to document their cleverness. The first cameras required multiple rolls of film, and a lengthy process to make the photos appear. It wasn’t until several generations of cameras that they became the iconic point-and-shoot machines that we remember so well.

Today, of course, a photo can be snapped from an iPhone and uploaded to Facebook before the sorority girl has even fallen off the bar she is dancing on. This is far faster than the time required for even the latest and most advanced instant camera. As such, that market has gradually dried up, leaving behind only nostalgia for a time when you would have to wait almost a full minute to see how bad the photo was going to be.

  • tonyola

    We never had a Polaroid in the family, so my main memory of the cameras is this groovy, hip 1966 TV ad. By the way, it features a pre-movies Ali McGraw.[youtube h7k2uwJmwxo youtube]

  • My grandmother had one, and I thought it was the most amazing device. I probably wasted like 3 rolls just dicking around with it. Good times.

  • OA5599

    I have a friend who used to work for a film developing place. He said they had these little orange cards they would put into customers' batches of processed photos stating that certain pictures did not meet their professional standards and were not processed. Of course, those pictures they didn't process were pornographic. And when I say "didn't process", I mean "made a copy for each guy in the lab". I later worked with someone whose husband used to work at a photo lab as a teen, and she said he still has a copy of every nude picture he ever processed.

    I'm sure a good portion of Polaroid film was purchased by people who were too embarassed to go to a photo lab.

    • Proving yet again, almost any great product is made popular by porn or sex.

  • >poof<

    • I gotta say, I love seeing these comments. It did show up, BTW, in case you were curious.

    • FЯeeMan

      I think your film is too old…

  • Slow Joe Crow

    I still have a 4"x5" Polaroid negative from a high school photography class lying around. Doing actual sheet film was to much hassle so our one Calumet view camera had a roll film back and a Polaroid film holder used with type 55 sheet film that could stripped apart to produce a usable negative as well as a print. The 4"x5" holder was a funky device with several latches and levers since the film came as individual sheet in special cardboard envelopes and required special rituals, to use it; you set up the shot, inserted the film holder, opened the rollers, put in the sheet of film, which engaged a latch that trapped the film so you could pull out the cardboard (which held the chemicals), took the picture, reinserted the cardboard, closed the rollers which also released the film, pulled the whole package through the rollers to start development, wait the usual amount of time, peel it apart and if the print looked OK strip the negative out and dunk it in a bucket of sulfite solution to fix it and then after drying you could put it in an enlarger to make prints.

  • Pingback: FadWinett()