Monday, December 08, 2008

Farewell, Polaroid

This is the last month of the last year of production of Polaroid film.

I have mixed feelings about this. While I don't shoot Polaroid often (we still use Polaroids to do atta-girl and years-of-service shots at staff meetings), there's a certain bit of nostalgia wrapped up in the little square pictures with the white borders.

My folks used all kinds of cameras when I was growing up. They had a 35mm Yashica for years, a little Kodak 110, a disc camera, and, of course, the ubiquitous Kodak Polaroid. Quite of few of my childhood moments are captured on Polaroid film. They all look rather dark and bleak (could be that the 70s decor and clothes also played a part), but the memories are there.

Lots and lots of fine art has been created with Polaroid film, and there were all sorts of fun experiments you could do with the emulsion as it was developing (and after).

But, alas, digital has written Polaroid's obituary, and the instant photograph you can hand to someone has been replaced with the instant photograph you can show off on the back of your camera (and e-mail later). I'm definitely a digital fan, having been swayed to The Dark Side a few years ago, but there's a little pang of regret that my daughter will not remember how cool it is to watch an image magically appear before your eyes. Sure, she might get exposure to traditional darkroom developing, but she won't get to stand in the bright sunshine holding a photograph that grows less latent by the second.

If you have time this week, dig out an old Polaroid or two and just hold it, and realize that you've got a piece of history in your hands. Goodbye, old friend!


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