Photograph courtesy of The Story of Instant Photography
The birth and evolution of instant photography is a story about one
scientist's dream and its realization: about inspiration, scientific creativity,
personal perseverance and corporate integrity threading through more than
three decades. It is the story of Edwin H, Land; his founding of the Polaroid
Corporation, his revolutionary discovery of an instant picture-making process
and its global impact.
The heart of the instant story began in 1943 in Santa Fe, New Mexico,
when, vacationing with his wife and their three year old daughter Jennifer,
Land took his daughter's picture with a conventional 35mm camera. When
she impatiently asked why she couldn't see the picture immediately, the
thirty seven year old Land started thinking. Why couldn't there be a one
step process that eliminated the barrier between the photographer and the
process, one that provided an opportunity to view the subject and the resulting
Land's scientific curiosity, his refusal to accept something that on
the surface might seem impossible, is the key to his nature. He once claimed,
"If you can think of it, you can do it."
Instant cameras as we know them today are a long way from their more
primitive beginnings. Today's autofocusing, self-ejecting cameras and self-contained
films were preceded by larger machines with bellows to extend, shutters
to cock, lenses to focus, and film to pull or peel manually from the back
of the cameras. Still, the miracle of having a finished picture within
minutes after releasing the shutter button was awesome.