Ever since Polaroid announced that it was done with instant photography and the Impossible Project started up, I’ve been obsessed with instant photography. I had some of the last packs of Polaroid film and still have one pack in the fridge that, most likely, I should use pretty soon.
Anyhow, when I heard about Instant: The Story of Polaroid was being released, I was excited to check it out. The book was written by Christopher Bonanos and it’s a pretty quick read, full of interesting photos and is nicely designed.
Edwin Land was an incredible man and the company he built reflected him and his personality. Reading the book gave me more back story on how the company evolved and insight even into their partnership with Kodak. There was an amusing quote from Eastman Kodak who first provided the negative layer when Polaroid came out with instant film (for 20 years): “Anything that is good for photography is good for Kodak”
Not sure if Kodak did the best job of taking advantage of that, but like Polaroid, Kodak will always remain one of the iconic brands in photography for me.
But ultimately any story about Polaroid involves Edwin Land. Land was a visionary and understood the value of small companies. As photographers we’re almost all small businesses and his thoughts could also be applied to Silicon Valley and startups in general: “[Y]ear by year, our national scene would change in the way, I think, all Americans dream of. Each individual will be a member of a group small enough so that he feels a full participant in the purpose and activity of the group. His voice will be heard and his individuality recognized.” Prescient for sure!
Check out the book to find a lot more nuggets like Ansel Adams’ involvement with Polaroid and there are also some great photos by and of Andy Warhol and others. I also appreciated the bit about the Impossible Project team and what they’re doing to keep instant photography alive.