The Rise and Fall of Polaroid

5th October 2012 | Alice Taylor

Mark Lamster of The Design Observer Group interviews Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant, a history of the Polaroid camera and it’s founder, Edwin Land (right).

Bonanos explores the rise, fall and small-scale revival amongst a ‘cult’ of people. Here are some extracts from the interview, but you can read the whole article here.

“Before Polaroid came along, you pretty much had to either send your film off to Kodak to be processed or build your own darkroom, and photos of a that type couldn’t be sent through the mails without the risk of arrest. So a whole new world was opened up for your friendly neighborhood perv. It’s said that the adoption of the VCR was largely propelled by the porn business, and it’s certainly true of the Web. Porn, for better or for worse, is the killer app for a lot of technological advances.”

“The profound thing is that we, as a species, can do this with our brains and our will — figure out how (for example) to take something that’s highly light-sensitive, expose a picture on it, and then two seconds later have it pop out into the sun and stay lightproof. Most people wouldn’t have the foggiest idea how to begin doing that, and Land and his crew not only figured it out–they were able to mass-produce it, in such a way that it cost less than a buck.”

“They’re the same kinds of casual snapshots that somehow also feel documentary and a little profound: people eating and drinking, sitting on the porch, whatever. And it’s even the same square format, which is not an accident: the Instagram guys explicitly pay homage to Polaroid in their logo, and have a display of old Polaroid cameras in their offices…

…the spontaneity was valuable to some people, like Andy Warhol; the color was especially useful to others, like Marie Cosindas; and the unique technology was valuable to Ansel Adams and a lot of other people.”

“Polaroid had prototype digital cameras in the 1980s, and backed down on the project, saying “we’re not in the electronics business.” What needed to be said, loudly, was that SOMEONE was going to be in that business, and it was going to destroy Polaroid’s film sales either way.”

Via: The English GroupThe Design Observatory