Santa Fe, 1943. A 3-year-old little girl asked her Dad why she couldn’t see the photograph that he had just taken of her. The Dad was challenged by this question – and within an hour he had cooked up an idea and scurried to a friend’s house to discuss the possibility of a camera that would spit out the picture after exposure.
The Roots of Instant Photography
The Dad in question is none other than Edwin Land – an American Physicist and the co-founder of Polaroid. He was also the inventor of polarizing filters for sunglasses and photography, as well as window shades and lamps. But he is best known for conceptualizing instant photography – a one-step process of developing and printing pictures in just a minute or less.
After meeting with his friend (a patent attorney) about the concept of a dry camera producing a picture right after it was exposed – Land started his experiments, working closely with a group of collaborators. It took them three years until Land unveiled the film at a conference in 1947. In the next year, they launched a camera and a film that produced sepia-toned images, followed by a black-and-white film which faced a fading problem – solved by a redesign and the addition of a plastic coating.
Land’s colleague Howard Rogers then started his fifteen years (!!!) of research on colored instant pictures. The color film was introduced in 1963, inciting an overwhelming sales of instant color cameras. Nine years later, the famous Polaroid SX-70 was presented to to the public – a single lens reflex instant camera that could be folded up to 1 inch thick. The company tapped Sir Laurence Olivier and modernists/designers Charles and Ray Eames to promote the SX-70.
An SX-70 advertisement by Eames:
The SX-70 was such a hit that Eastman Kodak was inspired to create their own line of instant cameras. However, Polaroid emerged victorious in the rivalry, suing Kodak for violating seven Polaroid patents.
Bankruptcy caused the Polaroid company to shut down, creating a furor among SX-70 loyalists.
Instant Photography Today
Meanwhile in Japan, renowned camera company Fujifilm got busy in their labs, designing a line of handy instant cameras that produced credit card-sized prints. Some of the models featured convenient functions such as a self-timer switch, Light/Dark controls that allow you to adjust the exposure 1 step brighter or darker, built-in Intelligent flash and sleek designs. You can find a selection of these Fuji Instax cameras at the Lomography Online Shop).
Lomography is also pioneering instant photography with its special accessories, designed to be used with certain cameras (the Diana F+ and the Lomo LC-A+). The Diana Instant Back+ and LC-A Instant Back+ offer the distinct effects of the Diana F+ and the Lomo LC-A+ in an instant.
Diana F+ Instant Back+ Gallery:
Lomo LC-A Instant Back+ Gallery:
When paired with other accessories and lenses designed especially for the Diana F+ and Lomo LC-A+ cameras, instant snapshots will yield astonishing, unpredictable results.