Pop culture can’t quite shake the fascination with Polaroid and those painterly hued shots surrounded by the iconic white border. Hence, new brand Polaroid Originals’ effort to resurrect instant photography with the OneStep 2 analog instant camera ($100), launched just in time to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Polaroid’s founding.
Started in 1937 by Edwin Land, the Cambridge-based Polaroid company democratized instant photography with the 1972 release of its SX-70, followed by a host of other innovations, such as the more affordable OneStep camera, all of which not only influenced a whole generation of artists from Andy Warhol to Robert Mapplethorpe, but made capturing family vacation photos a snap. In 2008, Polaroid announced the end of its film production thanks largely to the cameras every cellphone owner turned amateur photographer carries at all times, but a group of analog superfans (and former employees) dubbed the Impossible Project swooped in to buy the company’s last remaining factory in hopes of keeping the medium alive. And this spring, the Impossible Project got a whole lot more possible when its largest stakeholder acquired the Polaroid brand and started Polaroid Originals.
For instant photography’s from-the-ashes bounce back, the Impossible Project’s CEO Oskar Smolokowski looks to—ironically—the same technology behind the medium’s initial fall. “With everyone having an amazing digital camera in their pockets in the shape of their smartphones and snapping away multiple times per day, the digital photo became less…important, for lack of a better word, to mark a moment.” Smolokowski says. “Creating a physical artifact, a Polaroid photograph from a special moment definitely has more intent in it, and therefore more weight to it.”