When we last left our Polaroid story it looked liked Edwin Land’s dreams of a utopian world of analogue instant photography was over. With the advancements and popularity of digital cameras, “instant film” cameras (and for that matter film cameras in general) were becoming less popular. In early 2008, Polaroid announced that it would stop producing all types of instant film for Polaroid cameras.
When Polaroid ended instant film production in 2008, The Impossible Project (founded by Florian ‘Doc’ Kaps and André Bosman) picked up where they left off—purchasing the last Polaroid production plant (literally days before it was to be demolished) and the equipment for producing integral instant film. What made this project even more ‘impossible’ was the fact that they had to find new solutions for replacing and upgrading problematic or unavailable components. They decided not to recreate Polaroid film but instead to develop new products with new characteristics.
Don’t undertake a project unless it’s manifestly important and nearly impossible.
– Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid
We have taken the speed of digital photography for granted; the digital camera allows you see the photo you have taken instantly. The image is there, but it is not tangible – just pixels on a screen. Imagine taking a photograph and then instantly having that photo artifact in your hands. In the middle of the last century, this was a revolutionary concept.
Edwin Land, a scientist and inventor, founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. He is best known for developing the world’s first Instant camera, called the Polaroid Land camera. In 1944, Land was inspired by his 3-year-old daughter’s confusion as to why a camera could not instantly produce pictures after they were taken – instant photography was born. It was the invention of instant film and the creation of the instant film camera that would make Polaroid a household name. The first Polaroid Land camera went on sale in 1948. More about Edwin Land and Polaroid can be found here and also here.