Posted on: March 11, 2021 Posted by: Stuti Shiva Comments: 0
grayscale photo of old pictures

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It was 1992, a fourteen year old me was totally smitten by the picture developing in front of my eyes. Till now I was only aware of film cameras and never the process . The Polaroid camera was like magic, just better!


Even those who had never owned a Polaroid instant camera have very likely been touched by the genius of its creator, Edward H. Land. Anyone who has even attached a Polarizing filter to a camera lens or worn a pair of polarizing sunglasses can thank the American physicist and inventor. That’s because before Land marketed his innovative camera, he patented a new type of polarizing material that could be used to reduce glare and reflection in a variety of products. When Land entered Harvard University in 1926, he became intrigued with study of polarized light ray that vibrated in a single plane, typical of many nonmetallic surfaces. Land dropped out of school to pursue his research, and within two years he had invented a polarizing filter. Forming his own company, Land was manufacturing a variety of articles utilizing his technology. 

Following World War 2 – during which time the company made night-vision goggles, infrared filters, and other equipments for the military-Land came up with the most successful invention, the Polaroid Land Camera, an instant photography system that went on the market in 1948.The Polaroid camera contained a roll of dual-layer photo paper – one layer of light sensitive silver halide film and a second layer of unsensitized positive material. A sealed compartment at one end of this ” sandwich” contained developing chemicals. 

In 1972, the original wet, peel apart developing process was replaced with self-contained process called SX-70, which could be developed in broad daylight. Within two years of introduction of SX-70 camera, the company estimated that a billion prints a year were being made. 

The Popularity

Over the years Polaroid camera became a fixture at birthday parties, weddings and other social events.

Professional photographers used the peel apart version as test shots to help gauge composition and lighting. Fine art photographers created striking images by transferring Polaroid dyes to paper or fabric.

However by early 1990s, the demand for instant camera was being steadily eroded by the increasing popularity of Digital technology. Like Polaroid, digital cameras made instant images, but without the need for film. Digital picture had another advantage over Polaroid photos ~ that multiple prints could be made from a digital image. From the beginning each Polaroid instant print has been one of a kind, similar in that regard to a daguerreotype. But the nostalgia is hard to replicate ~ it takes me back to the good old days.

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