Polaroid, the pioneer of instant photography turns years


By CAPosts 26 November, 2020 - 05:30pm 130 views

Without a Polaroid, that moment would have faded over the years. He lived in Jerusalem and had just married his wife, whom he met in the same city. They decided to celebrate by smoking a shisha in the middle of the Arab neighborhood. Shortly after sitting down on the terrace, before taking the first puff, a habibi - he prefers to call it - appeared with a Polaroid in his hand. Without saying a word, he took a photo of them, gave it to them, and in about 60 seconds the magic emerged: portrayed forever. “It is the first photo I have with her and she is still at home. We immortalized that unique moment thanks to a Polaroid ”, comments Emilio Morenatti, director of photography for AP in Spain and Portugal.

This Saturday marks 72 years since the first instant camera on the market, the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, was marketed . With an eye to Christmas, the company thought that 57 units would be enough. They could only be bought at Jordan Marsh stores in Boston, but as soon as they went on sale, they sold out. Its simplicity, ease of transport and immediacy of development made it the photographic innovation of the moment and of decades after, such as in the 1960s, when he created a film that took instant color images.

Edward H. Land, founder of Polaroid, changed the history of the industry . He made the cover in 1972 of Life magazine, which referred to him as "genius" and spoke of a "magic camera." Ansel Adams, Chuck Close and Robert Frank were some of the most reputable photographers who completely bet on this new style of portraying reality. Such fascination caused that, even 10 years ago, the photo that Andy Warhol took of the actress Farrah Fawcett was sold at the Sotheby's auction house for 35,578 euros. “Polaroid still has a retro, vintage touch that is still cool. You go to a party, take out your camera and have a great time, ”suggests Morenatti.

Although perhaps the greatest characteristic in the transformation it caused in the sector came from its infinite possibilities . It allowed an unprecedented creativity, that people saw the photograph and gave it to the moment. In the words of photographer Juanma Castro, everything was very pictorial. What he refers to, for example, is one of the first films he put on sale, the SX-70. Its chemical composition made it possible that, when pressing the image with a pointed object, the colors were mixed in a strange way. “The effects were extremely rare. Something like very artistic ”, he maintains.

Magic was also used with low-sensitivity film - “ it was a displeasure for the photographers who stopped making it, ”says Castro - . If in the middle of the development process we detached the cardboard from the film and took it to an absorbent cardboard, the image would be transferred creating pictorial effects. And to finish off this window of creativity, if you put the images in hot water, the emulsion of the film where they were exposed would come off. That is, they floated and you could pick them up to transfer them to other media, such as wood or paper. “Polaroid allowed you to dream of a different kind of photography. Its virtue was that it generated a photographic object in itself. I didn't need anything else. ”

'Impossible Project'

Polaroid faced two bankruptcies in just seven years. The first in 2001, which managed to overcome it because it was acquired by Petter Group Worldwide in 2005. But what no one expected is that this same company would be accused of fraud by the US authorities on September 24, 2008. As of this moment, just one year after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world, the situation was irreversible. The bankruptcy had no turning back and the company began to be called Polaroid / PLR IP Holidngs, just as, in a desperate attempt to avoid its analog death , three entrepreneurs founded the Impossible Project and invested more capital to acquire the machinery that was being dismantled and a factory in Holland.

Despite the fact that Polaroid continues to operate today - under the Polaroid Originals name and 100% owned by the Impossible Project - the price of films is expensive, the quality is inferior, and the market is pointing in another direction. “All the chemist has passed away, but the project is true that it has not died. I think it is worth mentioning that it is still going ahead ”, Morenatti argues. Paradoxically, during this troubled time, instant photography has been in some good health. Fuji has opted for this style of cameras and for continuing with the manufacture of instant films. Its success was such that, four years ago, Amazon claimed that the best-selling photographic product was Fuji's instant films. Although the images are smaller than the classic Polaroids, the colors are similar and the result satisfies the most exquisite palates.

For a professional like Morenatti, wearing the legendary Polaroid among his team has served as both inspiration and a passport to many countries . Remember that when you started in photography, you saw a movie in which an anthropologist earned the trust of a tribe by giving them photos. When he toured Morocco about 30 years ago, he used the same technique. And in Malawi he repeated modus operandi . “I was collaborating with an NGO. That Polaroid opened a lot of doors for me. People were surprised to see themselves in a snapshot. I gave them to him and he could work more easily ”, he says.

Magnetized in the fridge, framed or hung with a thumbtack. It is not difficult to find a Polaroid lost at home. Even some directors of photography use this camera on set to check what they are recording at the moment. Nowadays, a minute seems like an eternity when in seconds we take dozens of images . It is the result of having at your fingertips the option to portray everything instantly. Much the same as Polaroid achieved in the late 1940s through a completely innovative technique. “It generated a number of photographic objects of great value. He had a virtue or a defect, depending on how you look at it. He did not repeat the results. The photos were always different even though you did the same ”, concludes Castro.

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