For the last couple of years, I have been following the original Polaroid film's (and camera's) demise. In 2008, its parent company announced that it would stop making the film, though it would license the technology to others who still wished to make it.
The Polaroid's immediacy was its magic, and when digital photography became affordable and popular, it seemed to decisively prompt its extinction, moving some to hold memorial exhibitions and funerals. While I never used a Polaroid on a regular basis, I have albums peppered with these special photos from over the years. I felt sad that this technology so symbolic of my childhood was about to disappear.
Others began to mourn a potential Polaroid loss, too. A dedicated group called The Impossible Project, which closely monitored the classic Polaroid denouement, set up a web site and rallied artists, photographers, creatives and Polaroid fans worldwide to figure out a way to preserve this photographic form. The attention it created may have influenced Polaroid's initial decision on its namesake camera's fate.
This past January, at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Polaroid company announced its next-generation camera, a 21st-century child of classic Polaroid — the Pic 1000. This new camera uses the same Polaroid film as did the first-model camera, the SX-70 (released in 1972), and its successors.
The classic Polaroid camera's lifespan has been extended. In honor of this, I'm featuring an 11-minute film by Charles and Ray Eames that explains how the camera works. Like the images the Polaroid produces, this ad/video is a snapshot of another time and place; there's something sweetly nostalgic about it, yet it also explains the photographic process taking place within the camera in clear, fascinating detail. (At about 4:20, the Eames perspective and illustrated narrative shows distinctly.)