For Christmas, my parents got me a bit of “light” reading, Andy Warhol Polaroids 1958-1987 by Richard Woodward. Okay, so there isn’t much text, but this behemoth of a coffee table book weighs about five pounds and opens to full page spreads of nothing other than Polaroids. I have noticed that despite the fact Polaroid no longer exists, it is really making a comeback. Whether it is people bringing old Polaroid cameras back to life with the help of the Impossible Project or people embracing the new Fujifilm Instax cameras, I’m seeing instant photos everywhere.
As a company, we’ve definitely enjoyed playing with a variety of instant cameras, thanks to Gene and his collection. Our office fridge and bathroom door are plastered in Polaroid and Instax images. What is it about these images and cameras that is so appealing and fun?
The introduction to Andy Warhol Polaroids had some interesting things to say about instant photography. Today we are all spoiled by how quickly we can see any photo we take. We can glance at the back of our DSLR or pull out our phone to capture and then immediately see anything we decide to photograph. This wasn’t always that case, the days of film prevented this “instant” gratification. Woodward talks about Andy’s experimentation with the instant medium when it first arrived on the photographic scene.
“[Instant film] gave him ready made boarders that he could play with or against it if he chose. . . so many artistic decisions about making a portrait had already been made by the camera that he could concentrate on the ones that had not.” I really love this way of thinking about photography. As someone who studied photography and who works around professional photographers, it is sometimes easy to forget that photography should be fun. It doesn’t always have to be an obligation. It doesn’t always have to be work. As a photographer there can be a underlying pressure to always make good photographs, but having something simple and rudimentary, like an instant camera, takes away that pressure. The image is what it is, there isn’t much you can do to control the outcome.