The Polaroid camera returns

by Steve

Polaroid of a car on a motorwayIt feels like only a few months ago that the final Polaroid film passed its sell-by date and many lamented the loss of our first experience of instant (or near-instant photography). But as soon as it leaves, it returns, with a brand new model (and new film!) hitting the market.

Polaroid has seemed to have become more and more beloved in recent years. I’m sure nostalgia plays a part. For many of us, it was a feature of our youth, and was an early glimpse into the possibility of science and technology in the everyday. While future generations will take digital cameras and camera phones for granted, here was something that was incredible in its immediacy. No waiting to finish the film and heading off to Boots required.

Using a Polaroid now may well jog a few of those memories. It’s a return to a simpler time, and to making every shot count. There’s not the instant editing that digital allows, unless you wish to spend thousands on film. Each photo matters, unlike with the modern digital camera, where you can take twenty shots for each one you’ll actually keep.

I’m sure the actual photographs Polaroid cameras produce induce some form of nostalgia too. There’s a faded and often woozy quality to them, almost like a memory made real. They fade in, and ultimately fade out. While there may not be the sharpness or fidelity of a digital image, it’s somehow a little more soulful, if you’ll excuse the pretension. Even a hastily taken Polaroid has the capacity to move, perhaps because of that in-built nostalgia, and feeling of time passing.

I guess, like nostalgia, it’s a little easy and a little open to becoming passé or trite. There is a certain visual shorthand that accompanies a Polaroid photograph, that without the need for much effort or skill alludes to a particular age and feel. That it is one of the cameras of choice for the hipster is obviously a worry. That doesn’t stop its capacity for capturing a moment beautifully, though. If I could afford all the film, and could actually take a decent photo, I’d be tempted to get one.

Image from Vacacion via Flickr.