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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."