Photographic magic is back. Eight years after Polaroid closed up shop, you can now – thanks to the design whizzes at the Impossible Project – use technology to go back in time to the era of instant film.
You may remember the thrill of patiently waiting and watching, waving the tacky damp square of Polaroid film to hasten the drying process, wondering what image would eerily emerge.
Funny how what’s old is new again. A whole new generation is being exposed (no pun intended) to Polaroid-like film. For people who’ve grow up on digital this and digital that, instant gratification is a given—that was not the case a decade or two ago, when film from a regular camera had to be sent off to a developer, and in fact that’s what made Polaroid seem like magic at the push of a button.
When Polaroid announced that it was closing the business, fans of the film were devastated. You can get a sense of their devotion by clicking around the fan site Polaroid Passion. Thankfully the Impossible Project stepped into the breach, reinventing classic instant film (they are still the only manufacturer of instant film in the world), refurbishing and selling original Polaroid cameras, and designing their own range of Impossible cameras.
Luckily, the old-school devotees can jump on board the modern iteration along with photographers who may not even remember the original.
Perhaps the popularity of Impossible’s film is buoyed by the fact that although we all take zillions of photos, they often languish unseen on our phones. The instant film gives you a tangible memory that you can stick on the fridge or pass around a group of friends at a party right after you take the snap.
The Impossible Project also designs cameras to go with its film.
“The I-1 is analog instant photography reinvented for the digital age,” the company says, describing its camera system.
While it’s a straightforward, easy-to-use camera, it comes with assorted bells and whistles for the more artistically ambitious.
“The I-1’s uniquely designed ring flash provides a diffused light that’s perfect for portraits,” the tech team says. And in a nod to today’s high-tech ethos, “You can also connect your iPhone with the camera to experiment with creative tools like light painting, double exposure and more,” the creators add. “This is the only instant camera that lets you take full photographic control of aperture and shutter speed, using the I-1 App’s manual mode.”
That’s the official spiel, but what about photographers themselves? Reviews on the Impossible site are mostly raves (with a few concerns about battery life), and one singles out favorite features on the I-1:
“Some of the great ideas here are the removable folding viewfinder with its slick magnetic connection, the ring flash with its built-in frame counter and the rear grab handle.”
Sounds as though the past and the present have a bright future ahead of them. Smile, please!