Recently, I acquired a design classic on Ebay — a Polaroid 1000 instant camera. This model camera is the same one I got as a present on my 12th birthday. With this camera, you can print photos without having to get them developed. It was the first mobile device I had that I understood immediately. It worked quite simply: Buy a cartridge with 10 photos. Insert. Push the button and (with a nice whirring) a photo came out that developed automatically. With this camera, I photographed my assembled Revell model airplanes at age 10. Oh boy.
Yesterday, I went to a photography shop where the salesman warned me about the bad quality of the prints. To be honest, it is even worse, but more on that later. The film is nicely packaged by a company called IMPOSSIBLE in Netherlands, founded when Polaroid ceased production since 2008. On the package it says: Made with pride in Enschede, the Netherlands. A cartridge with 8 shots cost 20 euros (about 28 U.S. dollars), as much as I had paid on Ebay for the whole camera.
Open camera. Place cartridge. Aim. Shoot! Whirrrr….. And surprise!—a small art print with the following text comes out:
The impossible Project
Artiva Design / Title: Unknown Landscape 11/30
A nice gimmick, I must admit. You can read about the project at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_Project.
Next photo: a dark blue square appeared. It immediately reminded me of the sky blue of my aircraft photos I took as a young “photographer” :-)
Waiting for about 2-3 minutes, the photos still hadn’t developed. So next try (this time with a lot of ambient light). Click. Whirrrrr…. After 5 minutes, still no result on the print. I made another 2-3 shoots, but still no results.
Dump as stone I read in the operating instructions that you have to put the prints in the dark immediately (a bag, your pocket or a book).
You should wait another 40 minutes until the picture develops. Damn my cartridge was already more than half-empty. Ok. A last attempt: This time at my desk, shooting my MacBook Air. Click. Whirrrrrr. After a good half hour, I peeked in the book where I put them and and the final photos came to light. As I mentioned (the salesman warned me too) the prints were shit.
Today (“thanks“ to Instagram & Facebook) nobody cares about how you could share about your impressions, since you just pick up your mobile device, shoot and your impression goes directly to your friends. Yesterday you had your friends with you to get a photo of them. Now your friends are virtually with you as Facebook friends.
The Polaroid 1000 still has a great user experience (a lot of company can learn from), also thanks to the whirling sound when the photo ist made. But for me it’s a mystery that someone would wait over half an hour (!) for the photos to develop. I remember we used to rub under the roller because we thought it would develop faster, just because we thought the developed would be faster. As noted above (the salesman too), the results are more than unsatisfactory. Likewise that you have to wait so long and hide it for 30 minutes in your pocket is unacceptable. And most annoying I also had to read a manual, only to learn that there is no instant camera (sorry to admit: instant does mean immediately results).
When I was a kid it was magical to see how the picture appeared in front of your eyes while looking at it. It was never about a sharp, high -resolution photo, never about a device that fits well in your hand. It was about an immediate sharing device. I wanted to see my planes flying at the sky.
It will probably remain a stupid experiment. Maybe, I’ll leave the remaining 1-2 photos for my 8 year old son as a reminder. Maybe he will save the shots as something special. However, my first Polaroid photos will always be something special that I’m proud to remember..
Or did you print out your first photos from your iPhone?