Although we enjoy shouting at the TV as much as anyone when The Apprentice contestants make bumbling business decisions, we feel less qualified to pass judgement on Facebook’s recent acquisition of photo sharing app Instagram. The app allows iPhone users to apply retro and Polaroid  camera effects onto their digital phone photos, and share them with their friends. The Facebook deal has been witheringly referred to as ‘paying $1 billion for a set of photo filters’.

For us it’s just a reminder of how great real Polaroid photography is. For a distinctly smaller sum of money, Facebook could have picked up a secondhand SX-70 camera on eBay and stocked up on instant film from The Impossible Project.  $1 billion could buy you an awful lot of Polaroids.

The authentic analog snaps – with their unmistakable lo-fi, low-tech washed out colours and imperfect focus – are so much more beautiful than any digital simulation. Professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts alike help keep Polaroid photography alive, sharing their work on Polanoid (such as those gems above), a sort of Flickr for Polaroids.

David Hockney is also a fan – creating collage artworks by combining Polaroids together, showing multiple views of the same scene (such as in the below work titled ‘San Diego Wild Animal Park’ from 1982).

Like all things analogue facing obsolescence in the digital age, there’s a small amount of magic that gets lost from their modern successors – the warm crackle from a vinyl record, the comforting feel of a favourite book in your hands, and the suspense of watching a Polaroid photo develop right before your eyes not knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out. Let’s hope they stick around for a little while longer.

Advertisements