Tag Archives: polaroid

Honey Have You Seen My Polaroid Camera?

“Honey, Have you seen my old Polaroid camera?”

“Yeah, I gave it to Goodwill along with your vinyl records because I heard they stopped making the film.”

“You did what????”

If you don’t own a Polaroid camera, you probably know someone who does.  Most likely a parent, or grandparent, or cousin. Where are these cameras now?  Probably in a closet, or trunk, or buried in a heap up in the attic. Or, you might find one for $4.00 at a flea market.   No respect, considering what Popular Photography Magazine said many years ago, ” Like television, Polaroid photography is one of those processes that permits technically unsophisticated mortals to perform technological miracles.”  And so this is how these instant cameras were marketed, sold at Kmart and at the drugstore as an easy way around complicated photography.  They were sold door to door, and on TV, and everyone had at least one.  When my Father passed away, I found a Land Camera and two pristine SX 70’s up on a shelf next to a shoe box containing a Colt 45 pistol…

Then we had the era of Warhol and Mapplethorpe, and suddenly things changed as the artists discovered the inherent beauty of this once thought of utilitarian device.  Fast forward to the digital era and all those “unsophisticated mortals” now have a new way to capture an image instantly, and so Polaroid dies an ugly death, leaving the old school artist’s in the dust.  ( sorry for the drama)

Enter the Impossible Project, a group of visionaries on a quest to resurrect Polaroid film.  Well, they have done it, but apparently not to perfection.  You see there are a few secrets of science that lay buried in the ruble, thus we have to wrestle a bit it with these new films.  Which brings me to the point of this post. PHOTOWORKS IS HAVING A CLASS ON HOW TO USE THE NEW IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT FILMS!  Here are a few photos that show why a class and some simple tutoring will make using the new films more enjoyable.

oops, I didn’t know that you had to shield this from light, looks cool, but I might try again.

okay, that’s getting the hang of it.

by James de Leon ( what you will learn how to do in this class)

So all of you Polaroid shooters dig out that old camera, and come on down to photoworks on April 22nd to see first hand what all the fuss is about surrounding the new era of Polaroid. http://www.facebook.com/events/320455021347683/

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Like A Kid In A Camera Store

I grew up in the sixties and seventies in Southern California and my father, an avid photographer used to take me to many camera stores.  He bought me my first Kodak Instamatic when I was nine, and though it is long gone, it has been replaced by an exact replica, as  I now collect cameras.  These old camera stores were cool with all the iconography and signage of the era, the  Kodak displays, and the faint smell of stop bath from the back room.  My dad could spend an hour chatting f-stops and fixer dilution with the guy behind the counter.  Maybe he’d pickup a new wide angle lens, or a yellow filter, or maybe just some lens cleaning tissue.  There are few such places left, but most have gone from darkrooms to self serve kiosks, and from negatives to pixels. The only cameras marketed to kids today are based on lame cartoon characters, though back in the day there were of plenty Barbie cameras too. ( we can argue Barbie v Dora The Explorer later)

Along with the recent resurgence of film has come a new generation of analog camera lovers.  When you combine that with return of “Polaroid” style instant films and Polaroid camera users you get kind of a Father and Son meeting all over again.  At Photoworks, I thought it would be fun to sell a few used cameras.  I started out with some Polaroids, and now have all sorts of used film cameras.  I can’t keep the stuff on the shelves, and the whole vibe of the shop has picked up with the new camera offerings.

Now I’m searching eBay for SX-70 cameras, and old signs to decorate the shop.  Everyday some new camera comes in the mail.  I clean them up, put them on display, and then they are gone.  For the first time in 23 years, I have people asking me for a ” 28mm nikkor” as if I’m an actual camera store.  I say, “let me check in the back for you,” even though there is no “back.”  So, I am clearly enjoying all of this camera business, and something about it has rekindled some nostalgia in me.   Maybe we’ll have to bring back the old darkroom, now that would make my Dad proud.

Come to Papa

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The Impossible Photo Lab

By now all of you photographers and most of you non photographers are aware of the demise of Polaroid.  It’s over but like all great things analog, you cannot kill the spirit.  Enter The Impossible Project, a small group of people who claimed the remains of the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands, and without much of a recipe have invented a new line of instant films.  The word “impossible” is no understatement, as the technical hurdles rival sending people into space.  By some miracle we now have a full line of new instant films to play with, but they are tricky to work with, kind of like a soup that must be cooked in exactly the right way.  The folks at IP have come up with a few accessories and tricks of the trade that must be applied in order to make the new films work.  So it’s  like a science project of sorts but the results are gratifying and I am willing to work to make some instant film magic.  Photoworks has been offered the new line of films to sell in our store and we are thrilled to be a part of the instant film resurrection.

I feel some kinship with the Impossible folks because for years I struggled to maintain old film printing equipment.  Our lab used to be all Agfa analog printing machines, the look of the prints from those machines helped put our shop on the map.  One day without warning, Agfa went under, and we were stuck with a bunch of old printers and no support.  I hired technicians to keep the machines going, but over the years parts vanished and eventually I gave up. Like every other photo lab, we bought new equipment.  We still print from negatives but not before they are scanned first.  You still see film grain, but it’s just not quite the same thing.  Over the years we have struggled to maintain our analog identity, but it is not easy, and on some days it feels “impossible.”

It’s amazing that something so commonplace as Polaroid would be such advanced science, and that once extinct would be so hard to replicate.  The Impossible Project has not only brought instant films back, they have expanded the line into all kinds of fun directions.  This week Photoworks will be receiving our first shipment of Impossible Project instant films.  We’ll be the only place in town to carry PX 600 Silver Shade with the Black Frame.  Very cool, very analog, suddenly everything seems possible again.

In stock and ready to rock

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Polaroid: I Finally Get It

Even before Polaroid decided to stop making film, there were legions of photographers addicted to this uniquely classic art form. I say art, but we all know Polaroid was not born with art in mind, or was it? I believe these cameras go back to the late 1940’s. They blossomed in the fifties and sixties becoming the camera of choice for many families. You can tell I’m no expert on this subject, and until recently I had never even owned a Polaroid camera. I bought an SX 70 because it looked so cool. Been doing snap shots with it because as of yet, I can’t figure out how to make decent art with the thing. I’m going to keep at though, because I want to get involved before it’s too late.

We sell the film in our store. It’s expensive now, but people buy it up like it’s going out of style. Oh yeah, it’s going out of style. When we decided to do a Polaroid show at Photoworks, the response was amazing. And these are just the more conventional style which does not include transfers, and all the other manipulations, etc.. I’ve never really understood the whole, big deal deal with Polaroid, but now I’m comin’ around. I don”t have to tell you that the combination of instant and analogue is a beautiful thing indeed.

It looks like Polaroid is being saved by cool companies like Polapremium, and even Fuji is making instant film now. Come by Photoworks tomorrow night (Friday May 8th) and see the show, be a supporter of a treasured art form, and maybe show me a thing or two about using my camera.Untitled-7

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