The Power of the Polaroid

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“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” - Karl Lagerfeld


How many times have you taken a picture of yourself and a friend on your phone and printed it out? The answer is probably never; I myself have done it a handful of times at most. You can only look at these iPhone photos, and they are easily changeable. Honesty and feeling can be lost in the digital. Tangibility is what sets Polaroids apart. They can survive computer crashes and dropping your phone in the toilet. Yes, they make mistakes. When they go through an x-ray machine they turn out all black or they can have pesky unpredictable light leaks. In spite of this, I wouldn’t trade one polaroid for a hundred digital pictures.

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“Polaroid by its nature makes you frugal. You walk around with maybe two packs of film in your pocket. You have 20 shots, so each shot is a world.” - Patti Smith

Every photo that you take has to matter for you to get your money's worth. Every photo needs to say a minimum of 1000 words. When you only have a limited number of photos you can take, you need to take special care that the shot will be something you cherish. Every photo should contain its own story - its own paradise.

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Here are the not so simple steps that will allow your photo to walk on its own:
Step One - Find someone or something interesting to take a photo of. (The best photos I’ve seen have human subjects or are of the ocean.)
Step Two - Adjust filters for light. (Your camera should detect the type of light for you but at the end of the day, use your judgement.)
Step Three - Take the picture!
Step Four - Watch it develop, actually watch it. Do not by any means shake it!
Step Five - Enjoy the memory!
(optional) Step Six - Fight with your friend about who gets to keep the picture.

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The only thing that can destroy a polaroid is fire; this means that the only thing that can destroy your memory is an unfortunate or deliberate intention. If you do so choose to burn it, then you must watch it burn. You actively watch it disappear just as you watched it come to life.
And that’s just it, that’s the power of the polaroid, bringing something to life and then taking it away at the same speed (provided there is no wind). Within the rectangular boundaries of that piece of film holds a moment of time. These moments are out of context - the extent of time that surrounds that photo could contain a daydream or a nightmare. The picture cannot change like the portrait of Dorian Gray. Polaroids live as long as you want it to. As long as it lives the time and circumstances can’t be forgotten.

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Let me leave you with this: If you were given a polaroid camera, with only one picture left in it, what would you want to remember?

Text: A.L. Patton
Visuals: Tumblr/Google




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