Call it nostalgia, or maybe it’s just a new awareness of the wonders of physicality, but despite this being the digital age the world of photography was pretty print-focused this past few years.
First, there’s the resurgence of Polaroid and other instant film formats. Once considered photographs relegated to albums from the seventies, or shoe boxes from the same era, instant film prints are making a comeback.
There are two possible reasons for the renewed popularity of Polaroid. First, there’s the story behind the fact that Polaroid cameras and film are still available.
In 2008, following years of financial ups and downs, Polaroid announced that it was discontinuing production. But Austrian photographer, Polaroid dealer, and lover of instant film, Florian Kaps, was having none of it. He purchased the half million film packages that were available, and teamed with André Bosman, a former head of film production in the large Polaroid film factory at Enschede, Poland, to save, revamp, and relaunch Polaroid cameras and film.
The name Kaps chose for his venture, the Impossible Project, fortuitously became a misnomer. Thanks to his passion, and funding from friends, Polaroid is available and popular. In fact, instant film is so popular that Fujifilm reported nearly a 30 percent sales increase of their Instax instant film between 2014 and 2016.
The second reason is less tangible, but it seems to stem from the new generation of photographers discovering the old technology. An article in Time points out that photographers in their 20s and 30s are looking to differentiate their art. It’s quite different to use film (instant or otherwise) instead of digital cameras. At the very least, it requires a photographer to think about this exact shot, because once it’s taken it will manifest exactly the way it was set up.
That’s a far cry from digital “spray and pray” photography, which relies on luck and getting one decent shot out of hundreds.
Whether it’s a romanticized notion of past practices, or a deliberate recrafting of the art of photography, today’s younger photographers and definitely into instant film.
Marko Dimitrijevic is a Miami-based photographer and entrepreneur who enjoys capturing the beauty of the world in his many travels as a global investor. Marko is a pioneering expert in emerging markets and his book, Frontier Investor: How To Prosper in the New Emerging Markets discusses why frontier markets like Nigeria, Panama, and Bangladesh are poised to follow a path similar to countries like China, India, and Russia that were considered exotic two decades ago. Marko’s work as an investor has informed his approach to photography. To read more about the similarities that Marko Dimitrijevic sees between the two, check out his essay “The Surprising Relationship Between Photography and Investing.”