Save Polaroid: Instant Film Set to Expire in 2009

9 years ago

Want to help save Polaroid film? You are not alone. 

With a second bankruptcy announcement Friday, a year after the news that their instant film would cease production in 2009,
there may not be much time left to save Polaroid
(film, anyway.) Fans of the film and the pictures it creates are doing
their best, though, to keep it alive. Online, enthusiasts have formed
communities to protest and share the hope that someone else will pick
up the instant-film production slack.

In the process, they have created
an amazing archive of photographs - Polaroids, naturally. 

I can understand the allure. One of my first child-of-the-70's photographic memories is taking Polaroid
snapshots and waiting what felt like FOREVER, but what was really only a minute or so, to see the image appear inside the white border.

No matter what Outkast said years later, you weren't supposed to "shake it" (seriously, Polaroid said. Don't, although that didn't stop them from borrowing Hey Ya! for their ads for awhile.) My cousin and I did it anyway, taking silly shots and lining them up on the dining room table to check them out.  Digital photography was but a gleam in some genius's eye when we were playing with our Polaroid cameras, our instant gratification alternative to dropping off actual rolls of film at the drug store and waiting what seemed like an eternity (to a photo geek kid without a darkroom, anyway) to pick them up.

Save Polaroid is the hub site, offering a history of Polaroid film, a space to share photo downloads and Polaroid stories, and an action pack to help users save instant film.

The Save Polaroid Flickr group, an offshoot of the Website, is now 4,500 strong.
Group administrator Tubes (also known as Minneapolis artist Sean Tubridy) offers these guidelines for submitting a single Polaroid and supporting efforts to keep the film in production.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted a photo so far. if you've not
submitted one already, and you want to, please keep the following in

1) the picture has to be a Polaroid.

2) you have to be in the picture.

3) a description as to why you believe instant film should be kept alive must accompany said photo. 


Members like Anna Higgie - of the aptly named photoblog Anna Higgie Blog - follow his lead. She left this message on Flickr and scribbled part of it on the white photo border: 

this is me about 5 minutes after waking up...., bleary eyed and in my
jammies. polaroid turns it into a slightly mysterious, golden
moment..... save polaroid! save the magic!

Debbie Miller aka Baby Deb joined and said

This was taken of me November 1977. All my childhood pictures are taken with a polariod. I'll always remember that.

 Tara Adair's lovely photos and words live at 112 James. Her thoughts on her Save Polaroid submission, called "lake dixie":

lake dixie by tara adair. taken with a polaroid sx70 and time zero film. my first camera was a polaroid 600. my dad bought it for me in 1984. i was 9. i have been in love with the magic of polaroid ever since....please please please don't take polaroid instant film away!!! aims to be the biggest collection of Polaroid pictures ever, and at over 175,000 shots and 13,000 members (overwhelming, just a little), it's on its way, if not there already. 

CNN wrote about Tubridy's project and other Polaroid fans earlier this month. 

Facebook's Save the Polaroids group has 35,614 members at the moment. 

Jamie Bayliss of Seattle and the Fragment - Scraps From Life blog started Save the Polaroid (Save Polaroid links, so they're cool.) Her suggestion? Cut out the middleman, and send your photos directly to the Concord, Mass. Polaroid headquarters (and another one to her site.) 

Save Polaroid Japan and Korea

BlogHer business editor Elana Centor first announced the news of Polaroid's bankruptcy this February, with this prescient statement:

2008 will be a year where we say fond farewells to jobs, businesses and products that were once iconoclasts of American culture.

And so it goes. 

She linked to Jessica Jones's How About Orange blog and this application that will convert a digital photo intoa simulated Polaroid collage

Well-known photographer and blogger Heather Champ has carried out her Polaroid 366 project all year, 

starting with this Airstream shot on January 1, 2008. Todays, 355, is a nice shot of a cat named Spoo.

Jen started My Polaroid Blog on Christmas Day, 2007, and has kept it up all year. 

i decided that i have spent years entertaining one great idea after another, acted on very few, and brought to fruition even less. my promise to myself is to follow through on my ideas, no matter how scary or time consuming they may be, and just see how that turns out. so here is my first idea. a blog with my polaroids (and thoughts if i feel like it). let's see how long it lasts.

Tech, photo and some news blogs are full of Polaroid retrospectives, requiems and in some cases critiques. I enjoyed Harry McCracken's "A Heartfelt, You-Tube Based Wake for Polaroid Instant Photography," posted on PC World's Techlog on Feb. 8, 2008, just after the news broke. I think he found just about every Polaroid commercial ever made and posted them here. Remember Mariette Hartley? I'd forgotten, but there she is (and Hugh Laurie, circa 1980, hawking cameras. Check it out.)

The start of the end of Polaroid wasn't the digital camera--it was
one-hour photo labs, which let you get much nicer photos than a
Polaroid could produce without all that much extra wait. This 1989
commercial has a slightly defensive feel about it, I think...

Save Polaroid's FAQs link to where you can still pick up some packs of Polaroid film, although it might not be cheap. 

I haven't even touched here upon the artists who do beautiful work with
manipulated Polaroid images, which could be a post to itself, and may well be in the future. As I look though these sites I do find myself wishing that I'd hung on to an old Polaroid camera. I am touched by the feeling behind so many of these images, as I am by any good photo in any format. This is the best of the art of photography and the people who care about it. I have a feeling they'll keep this going somehow.

If you have Polaroid memories, please share them in the comments. You're clearly not alone. 

Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites, and is Rubyshoes on Flickr

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