Instant cameras – some important names and milestones

The principle of instant photography is based on the association of a negative and a positive. The paper on which the image is printed becomes positive and comes into contact with the negative between two rollers inside the machine. A chemical reaction allows the image to be fixed and viewed directly in daylight. The photo then leaves the camera and takes a few minutes for the image to appear.

Regardless of the ups and downs of its history, instant photography and the Polaroid brand have remained very popular among artists and photographers (from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol), whose grids Edwin Land entered from the very beginning, offering them the cameras. its. Let's follow together some landmarks in the physical and artistic history of "up-to-date" cameras.

Polaroid and Edwin Lang

The invention of this legendary device comes from the genius and American industrial scientist Edwin H. Land. After the founding of the Polaroid Corporation in 1937, he became interested in instant photography. This idea started because of his 4-year-old daughter, who asked him why he could not immediately see the photos they took together, a motivation that allowed him to create the revolutionary camera of the later twentieth century.

A demonstration of a prototype took place in February 1947 in front of the Optical Society of America. The Polaroid 95 went on sale for the first time on November 26, 1948.

Instant cameras – some important names and milestones

The camera launches monochrome (black and white) photos, and the Polaroid 900, sold between 1960 and 1963 with role-playing movies. The first color photographs developed will appear in 1963, with the creation of the film Polacolor. The record year for Polaroid was 1978, when more than 13 million cameras were sold worldwide.

Polaroid, Kodak, Fuji: competition is present

Polaroid was not the only company in history to offer fans of this type of photography instant cameras. One of its first competitors is Kodak. Its first instant camera model, the EK series, was introduced at Photokina in 1976. These cameras were built in a simple way, and some have a crank to capture the image.

Kodak cameras were sold until the mid-1980s, and then Kodak was sued by Polaroid on suspicion of patent infringement. Kodak lost the process and had to stop producing cameras instantly.

In recent years, Fuji has also entered the instant photography market, and has successfully sold a number of products, especially accessories. Their Instax series ranked first in terms of sales, because the device combines quality and simplicity.

Lucas Samaras

He is an American visual artist of Greek origin born on September 14, 1936 in Kastoria (Western Macedonia, Greece). He first became known as a painter, sculptor, specializing in self-portraits made with polaroid and then retouched, to subject them to often disturbing distortions.

David Hockney

Born July 9, 1937 in Bradford, UK, he is a portrait painter, landscape painter, draftsman, decorator, photographer and British art theorist.

He was an important representative of the pop art movement of the 1960s and of hyperrealism, but also one of the most influential British painters of the 20th century. Using surprising tones, David Hockney paints portraits and landscapes in which painting and photography mix.

Instant cameras – some important names and milestones

In 1970, Hockney, inspired the Cubist movement, created the first Joiners, that image by joining a Polaroid photo taken from different angles of the same scene. In May 1982, Hockney bought a classic camera because he wanted to give up the collages limited by the white frames of Polaroid photographs.

Andy Warhol

Born Andrew Warhola (1928-1987) was an American artist, one of the leading representatives of pop art. Warhol is known worldwide for his work as a painter, music producer, writer, for his avant-garde films and for his connections in the circles of intellectuals, Hollywood stars and the American financial "aristocracy".

In 1963, Warhol launched his own artistic technique, identified in a consistent series of his works: screen photography printed on canvas. The stereotype of pop art promoted by Warhol consists in the repetitive silkscreen printing, in the style of wallpapers, on a canvas background fragmented by colored surfaces, of some black and white photographs.

Impossible – The rebirth of the Polaroid

When the company ceased operations after the second bankruptcy declared in 2007, eleven employees of the former Enschede factory in the Netherlands, led by three daredevils, decided to recover the equipment to restart production. They financed their "re-start" project with their own means and called it, in an inspired-ironic way, "The Impossible Project". What the brand intended was to attract nostalgic Polaroid cameras ( here are some exemplified models ).

The first films sold in March 2010 were released under the brand name "Impossible". In the same year, three million devices were produced, and ten million the following year. It wasn't bad for an "impossible project," but ridiculous compared to the 120 million Polaroid products sold each year in the 1960s and 1970s. The sales of Impossible take place mainly in the online environment and in some specialized circuits. The Impossible brand is making some technical progress in the production line, especially during 2015, when a 2.0 version of its films allows better light resistance and improved development time.

Instant cameras – some important names and milestones

In the spring of 2017, Project Impossible obtained the right to use the Polaroid brand name to become Polaroid Originals . An emblematic and important name at the same time, because it is known by all, and represents a strategy to inspire new life in the famous brand.

Patricia Lee Smith

Known in the art world as Patti Smith, born on December 30, 1946 in Chicago, she is a multivalent personality, active in the field of music, literature, painting and, last but not least, photographic art. She was called the "godmother" of the punk movement.

In the field of visual arts, Patti Smith exhibited in 2008 in Paris, at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, a series of photographs, grouped under the name Land 250 . The explanation of the name of the exhibition does not surprise anyone, being in fact the model of the Polaroid camera that he used for some snapshots from the exhibition.

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