Polaroid. The instant film. An old and highly regarded brand. The iPod of its times. Polaroid instant was the bee's knees. Film that could develop instantly and stop developing in a matter of seconds so you could enjoy your photo without having to take it to a lab to get developed. This was amazing for its time. Cameras such as the SX-70 land camera although expensive became wildly popular in the 70s and the 600 series in the 80s brought instant photos to the mass market. People could have their photos and share it all around like an analogue Instagram of sorts.
Today though, the Polaroid brand has been sold and bought so many times that the brand has lost all credibility and has all but disappeared. Others have taken the unique Polaroid style and apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram have popped up emulating the unique style of a Polaroid photo. Instagram was so successful that Instagram was bought by Facebook for close to a billion dollars. It seems everyone but Polaroid have been able to take advantage of the trend they brought.
When Polaroid decided to stop making its instant film on 2004, it was a devastating blow to the Polaroid community. They supposedly left enough supplies to manufacture the film for another decade but its sudden rise in popularity meant it would only last a couple of years. This left many Polaroid camera owners left with nothing but an empty shell. But two guys: Florian Kaps, an Austrian entrepreneur and André Bosman, a factory manager at the Polaroid factory at Enschede decided to lease the factory and recreate the iconic Polaroid instant film. However, when they asked for the formula, the manager replied that what they wanted was impossible and thus The Impossible Project was born.
The Impossible Project has started producing their own blend of instant film for almost all of the old Polaroid cameras including most of the 60s, 70s and 80s. They've even improved on some of the films with greater colour saturation and sharper images. The only gripe with this film is that unlike the old Polaroid film which would develop in a couple of minutes, the Impossible film needs 20 minutes on their latest colour film and has to be shielded from light as soon as it prints; but I think that adds to the charm of using such an antiquated medium and the process makes you wait for the photo to develop instead of the digital cameras of today which let you you 'instantly' playback your images.
After experimenting with film including the easy to find Fujifilm Superia 35mm film on an old Nikon FM-2, I find that the medium makes photography much more special. You take more time in framing your shots and the manual controls give you a much better understanding of photography. I also love the element of unpredictability in this analogue format. I've gotten some beautiful photos from light leakage in my film and I think that instant film would allow me to explore this even further. It gives much more flexibility in the development process and lets you lighten or darken, change the colour saturation or even etch in lines on the chemicals to stencil in a pattern.
Polaroid Instant film has made me much more excited about photography and I hope the Impossible Project keeps improving its film.