There’s an argument to be made in analogue photography that the camera rarely matters. Put together a picture taken with a Leica and a picture taken with a simple point and shoot, and most of the time in terms of quality there won’t be a great deal of difference. Film matters more, and the talents of the photographer matter the most.
The reason I make this point is because my topic of today is my Polaroid Land 1000 camera. I could probably put this camera alongside most Polaroid’s and the outcome would be the same. In itself, the camera is less interesting, photographically, compared to film that is on offer today.
To cut a story short, Polaroid don’t make film for this camera anymore. They stopped a while back. A new company, called Impossible Project, began to develop their line of film. Their chemicals are a little different, a lot more sensitive, and their film produces some random pictures. I have attached a small pencil case to the camera, so that I can put the developed film in darkness straight away. I could use my pocket, but heat can affect the developing process such is the sensitivity.
If the film were cheap then this would be a tremendous lot of fun, but unfortunately it’s the kind of price that makes my wallet bleed whenever I take a single shot. Consider, for $10 I can shoot 36 35mm exposures. For 3 times the amount I can shoot 8 Polaroid shots. Since the Impossible Project film is often prone to failed developing, a lost shot is costing me about $4.50 a time.
So why take the shots? Well, they are kinda* random and I like the look. Occasionally the look turns the most mundane into the most abstract. It is this quality that draws, regardless of the price.
Back to the tool in question though, I purchased the camera in 2011 in a small antique shop in Millicent, SA. I had been working out in the country and decided to take a break to grab some lunch. I found a place down a back street of the diminutive little town (by country standards quite large – about 3000 – but I’m from the UK so it’s little). Coming out I noticed the antique store. I would have had no reason to come to this street ever again and figured I’d pop in.
That was where I bought the camera, along with an expired pack of original Polaroid film, and another camera (a Canonet rangefinder). It turned out the film really was expired – the battery fluid had leaked and eroded the metal links. For those that don’t know, a Polaroid camera does not have an independent battery. The film pack contains a small battery to power the exposures and development of the film (10 exposures for original Polaroid film, just 8 for the Impossible Project).
I paid, a little excited, as this was a camera I wanted. It carries an historic iconography. I loved the little rainbow effect on the casing, and it was a pure hunk of 1970’s plastic. As I drove off, I noticed that the street name was ‘Davenport Street’. I’m not one to believe in fate and omens, but it was an odd chance.
A few weeks later I drove down the same street to see if the store was open – it had closed down. Fortuitous timing on my part I think.
Below is a small selection of the shots I’ve taken. A wider set can be found on my Flickr page. I’ve included some of the ‘failed’ images, so you can see what happens when the developing fails.
*I know I should write ‘kind of’, but I like the look of the word ‘kinda’ and I use it regularly in informal times.