Instant Film Experience

November 20, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

There is no question Polaroid cameras changed photography and the way photographs are taken. The question is, did Polaroid cameras and the experience of using them have an impact on popular culture in such a way as to be considered pop culture artifacts? I would argue that the Polaroid process, the experience of the Polaroid process, and the physical prints themselves did (and continue to do) just that. With the introduction of easy to use consumer models in the 1960s and the OneStep Process in the 1970s, Polaroid Cameras took their place among the great game changers like the telephone, talking pictures, cassette tapes, compact discs and portable stereos. But the product alone did not shape and drive social interaction. It was the experience of instant photography that built the popular culture following and the experience that drove social interaction, creating a sustained pop culture buzz, rather than a passing fad or trend. In Back to the Future, Marty McFly repeatedly checked a Polaroid print of his family, watching them fade as he struggles to get his mom and dad together in the movie. The 2003 release of the song Hey Ya! by the group Outkast features the refrain “shake it like a Polaroid”. In the 1988 film Beetlejuice, Winona Ryder uses a Polaroid when she attempts to capture photos of the ghosts haunting the attic of her family’s home. Each instance reflects a part of the Polaroid experience – watching a print develop before your eyes, shaking the print to help development, and the pre-digital convenience of instant photography in the home. As an artifact of popular culture, the Polaroid experience and the Polaroid print, not the camera or the company alone, are engrained in our cultural vernacular, being embraced by and proliferated through pop culture.  That's one of the reasons I keep shooting Polaroid and will until I can't get film anymore. I try to incorporate instants int o the majority of my sessions. At the very least, I take a couple of photographs as momentos - the client gets one and I keep one for the Polaroid tree in the lounge area of the studio. It's fun and nostalgic and frankly, the photos look very cool. If you are interested in doing a retro film session, give me a call!


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