What I’m Reading This Week: Polaroid’s Instant Karma

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This past Monday, Lens, New York Times’ photography blog, published an article about the historical significance of the Polaroid. Writer Matt McMann laments over the fact that when we visit new places, we spend more time with a camera or our iPhone in front of our faces instead of living in the moment.

It is hard to truly appreciate the technology that went behind the first Polaroid cameras, especially because of how accustomed we’ve grown to the insta-photograph. On an everyday basis we are surrounded by different means of advanced technology, so the Polaroid’s uniqueness doesn’t always hold its own. Edwin Land, the inventor and creator behind the Polaroid, was always known as a perfectionist. He spent so many of his hours dedicated to the precision that went into all of the improvements the Polaroid saw during his management. His dedication can readily been seen by looking at the multiple models of the Polaroid throughout the years.

Even though the Polaroid has taken on many forms and facets, it is still very much alive in the way we approach photography today. McMann mentions generations of hipsters and their love of Polaroid and instant film. Hipsters are largely drawn to this very specific photography because, as McMann claims, it “evokes a nostalgia for things they weren’t brought up using—vinyl records are another example—by eschewing the uniformity of digital picture-taking.” It’s interesting to wonder why certain populations gravitate towards this very stylized photography.

 Efforts like the Impossible Project are attempting to salvage the Polaroid and its reputation if you’re interested in buying products or reading more about the history of this revolutionary device. 

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