Rediscovering instant photos

20161008_1409381When I was a child we had a Polaroid Land Camera, which was a great joy to have. We popped the film case in to the machine and then took a photo. The photo came out of the front of the camera and you had to wave the thing about until the picture emerged. The film packs came in black & white and colour. The camera was a basic machine and the colours were often washed out. The image itself was often fuzzy or out of focus. Nonetheless, in a age where films had to be taken to a chemist’s to be processed instant photography was a great draw.

Polaroid stopped making instant cameras and the technique became more artistic than a fun.I moved on to a pocket camera taking size 110 film and then onto an SLR. The Polaroid went into a cupboard. In  2008 Polaroid stopped making the instant films altogether and the use of film cameras dropped in the digital age. I think Polaroid also destroyed a lot of their production machinery. A company called Impossible bought up a few old film machines and started production again. I acquired a secondhand Land camera as part of a job lot but found it very difficult to get the film. Eventually, I gave the camera to a charity shop.

I also gave up on a lot of my other film cameras. Film was hard to come by and processing was expensive. Digital photography is cheaper, faster and it is possible to see the results right away. Using a card reader or cable they can be uploaded to the cloud, posted on social media or stored on a flash drive. They can be edited and reproduced quickly and easily. What is there not to love? So, why do I now find myself in possession of a Fujifilm Instax 10?


Fuji Instax Mini 10

A few weeks ago, I started an internet search for a small printer. Something to go into a pocket, perhaps. However, I noticed that eBay was awash with brightly coloured cameras. The Instax Mini. Hmmm. I thought. I could do with one of those for my next trip. I could print of the photos and stick them in my journal  as I went along. I became attracted to the idea of something small and brightly coloured. Then, I saw the price of the films. They do not come cheap. One pack is 10 photos. One pack is around £8.95. So, I went over to the Lomography site and saw some really awesome photos taken with instant cameras. I remembered Patti Smith.

For those of you not familiar with this musical legend, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer and artist. Her book “M Train” came out last year and is a stunning piece of writing. Anyway, Patti Smith is the Queen of Polaroid. Whenever, I think Polaroid, I think Patti Smith.

So, with Patti Smith and my travel journal in mind I bought a Fujifilm Instax  Mini 10 on eBay for the princely sum of a tenner plus postage. I ordered two packs of film online and picked up some very pricey batteries at the supermarket this morning. I snapped in the batteries, ripped open the film pack and tested the camera out. It worked. I breathed a sigh of relief. I like to take photos of distressed wood, distressed buildings, buildings with character and places with character. So, I headed across the street to the Clitterhouse Farm Project and snapped the café which has a weathered wood frontage. That is the photo resting on a tree bark. I got to focal length wrong and could have used the exposure button. But I think it has come out fine.


Tomorrow, I will take my new camera around East London in search of some gritty images. Photography has suddenly become fun again.


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