News / Arts & Entertainment

New Generation Discovers Appeal of Instant Photos

A Polaroid from fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt's collection. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
A Polaroid from fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt's collection. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
Faiza Elmasry
When Edwin Land introduced the Polaroid instant camera in 1948, it revolutionized photography. People could take a picture and immediately watch the image appear before their eyes. Today, digital photography has given new meaning to the phrase ‘instant camera,’ and in 2008, Polaroid stopped manufacturing film for its cameras.

However, shortly after Polaroid announced it would stop producing its self-developing film, a group of former employees pooled their resources to continue manufacturing it on a limited scale.

“These folks were told that trying to revive the Polaroid film was impossible. So, they said, ‘OK, we’re going to name it the Impossible Project,'” said Kayce Baker, head of  Impossible North America.

She says Polaroid’s instant camera essentially gave photographers a portable darkroom. The film cassette that slipped into the camera contained photographic paper, a negative, a substance to fix the image and another to stop the photo from developing further. Rollers inside the camera exploded the chemical packs after the image was exposed to set off the process.

Fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt captures everyday life with her Polaroid camera. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)Fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt captures everyday life with her Polaroid camera. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
x
Fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt captures everyday life with her Polaroid camera. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
Fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt captures everyday life with her Polaroid camera. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
“Back in the day, when you had to take the little film down to a lab to process it, you had to wait some time," she said. "It got faster and faster down to 30 minutes. But for the most part you still had to wait to get the printed image. Instant photography was just a great sharable type of imaging experience. It’s kind of what people do today with social media; Facebook, Instagram and so on.”

And people can still do it today, with a new generation of instant film cameras. Polaroid got back in the market, and other companies have joined them.

“The idea of taking an image and having it eject as a physical, tangible artifact out of your camera, I found was really intriguing,” said Noe Arteaga, 26, an instant photography fan.

In fact, he says, he prefers physical photos to digital ones.

“Storing your files and data is now becoming completely intangible, completely electronic, like storing your things on the cloud. You no longer need a flash drive or an external hard drive or anything like that," Arteaga said. "But I think because this sort of advance in technology has been moving so rapidly, people are sort of losing all that. People definitely do start shooting with film so that they can have like a physical representation of that.”

Although she works with high-tech digital systems, Heather Champ, who is from San Francisco, has always loved taking photos with her mother’s Polaroid camera because of their authenticity and immediacy.

A Polaroid of parking meters by fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)A Polaroid of parking meters by fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
x
A Polaroid of parking meters by fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
A Polaroid of parking meters by fine art photographer Jessica Reinhardt. (Courtesy Jessica Reinhardt)
“That’s the original object and it's unique," Champ said. "So much can happen either with digital or with more traditional film format like 35mm or 120mm film. You don’t know how that image may have been manipulated from the moment it was taken to the moment you’re viewing it. When you’re holding the original instant photograph, that’s it, that’s the photograph. There is kind of no lying about it."

Jessica Reinhardt is a fine art photographer from Los Angeles, California, who received her first Polaroid camera as a gift from her father while she was studying photography in college.

“Digital has become almost too sterile," she said. "It has almost a hyper-realism to it and that can sort of take away from using your imagination when you look at a photograph. I think that's one of the reasons people are turning towards film again because it has the warmth and a unique viewpoint that not even the best Photoshop artist can truly capture.”

She says photographers, whether they are amateurs or professionals, don’t have to choose between digital and film.

“In the photography world, there has always been this sort of antagonistic viewpoint of digital versus film," Reinhardt said. "I think the two can coexist. I think there is room for innovation in both areas. (For example,) there are many artists out there creating digital negatives or digital positive images and rendering that onto analog film.”

Impossible has developed a device called the Instant Lab, which projects a digital photo from a smartphone onto special film and transforms it into a physical photo. Baker says innovations like that will encourage more people to rediscover the art and artistry of film photography.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.

 

Blogs

African Music Treasures