) let's at least tag the originator of that "1977" effect (left): Credit goes to Edwin H. Land, the man who brought analog instant photography to the people.
If the artsy-ish Instagram photos are here to stay (in spite of
Land was a scientist, inventor and co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation. His hundreds of patents range from technology for polarizing light
to a method for viewing stereoscopic imagery
. But it was Land's innovative camera--point, shoot, yank out the photo--that made Polaroid a household name. For the first time, people could see and share snapshots in minutes.
Instant: The Story of Polaroid.
"Most small towns didn't have a photo lab. You'd have to put the film in a mailing envelope and send it to Eastman Kodak. If you missed a shot you didn't know. With a Polaroid, you saw what you'd done right away."
"That was life altering in some ways," says Christopher Bonanos, author of the new book
Polaroid introduced its first instant camera in 1948. By the 1970s photographers were shooting a billion Polaroid photos a year, according to Bonanos. Artists Andy Warhol, Walker Evans, Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethorpe and Ansel Adams worked with Polaroid cameras. (Adams was a consultant for Polaroid, says Bonanos.)
But even its art-world celebrity status couldn't keep Polaroid from fading. Land left the company in 1982. By 2001, the company had filed for bankruptcy twice. Polaroid stopped producing film in 2008*.
Have an actual Polaroid you want to share? Scan it or take a photo of it with your smartphone (no altering!) and send a jpg to firstname.lastname@example.org
. (Put "Polaroid" in the subject line.) We'll collect and share them in the coming weeks. And stay tuned for more about Land and Polaroid: We'll chat with Bonanos in the near future.
(*Don't throw out that old Polaroid just yet. The Impossible Project
sells film for Polaroid 600 and SX 70 cameras, so you can keep that point, shoot, hold-an-actual-photo-in-your-hand feeling alive. A pack of eight color shots goes for $23.49 plus shipping.)