Polaroid cameras, those magic instant documents, have been rotating in and out of my life for many years. As a costume designer, my mother needed to be able to record immediately the outfits that she was putting together for whatever show she was working on. Because of this, Polaroid cameras and the big, boxy film cartridges were always strewn about her studio. Stacks of developed photographs detailed last year's Boston Ballet winter program or a new film project that was just getting off the ground.
The images were at once disposable and intensely memorable, as each was truly unique, unable to be reproduced. They allowed for the instant gratification that digital cameras do now, but with several minutes of curious anticipation before the final product materialized. There was a process, nearly lost now, that made each moment before the click of the camera an intimate exchange between subject and photographer.
The Polaroid company has recently decided to drop its film production unit and focus exclusively on digital products and services. However, as sad as this development was, a new undertaking may soon make instant Polaroid-like photography a proper rival to disposable digital once again.
The Impossible Project has purchased the Polaroid film-production machinery and hopes to develop a new cost-effective system, that would essentially be an updated, more stream-lined version of the original. Think of Polaroid reborn through some fortuitous natural selection.
They hope to restart production of Integral Film for Polaroid cameras in 2010. I think this would be an amazing boon to young and old photographers alike, a welcome antidote to what has become a watered-down picture-snapping experience. Please visit their well-designed website and chuck them a few bucks if you like what they're up to.