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Sixty years after it was first launched, DAVID ADAMS reports that the future for Polaroid is looking good…

PICTURE: Emin Ozkan (

When the passing of the last ‘use-by’ date of unused Polaroid film was observed on 9th October, it seemed like the end of the instant camera system we’d come to love was nigh, another victim of the digital age.

The Polaroid company had fallen into bankruptcy in 2008 – the second time it had done so in a decade – and had announced in February that year that it was ceasing production of film for its cameras.

Despite the outcry – including a website campaign, – things looked grim. All was not lost – in the aftermath of Polaroid’s decision, Austrian businessman Florian Kaps launched The Impossible Project, an effort to “reinvent” Polaroid film at a former Polaroid manufacturing plant in The Netherlands – but for the cameras themselves, there didn’t look to be much of a future.

Yet more good news was to follow. Only days after the last use-by date expired, the Salt Lake City-headquartered company which now owns the licence to the Polaroid brand – The Summit Global Group – announced it would be relaunching some of the Polaroid Instant Camera models with distribution scheduled for next year.

But where did it all begin for Polaroid? The camera system – a foreshadowing of the instant nature of digital media – was invented in the 1940s by Edwin H Land, apparently after his daughter Jennifer asked him why, when he took a photo, she couldn’t see the pictures immediately.

Land, who founded the Polaroid company in 1937 initially to make polarised sunglasses, began work on what was known as the SX-70 project aimed at investigating the possibility of instant film. In 1948, the first camera – the Polaroid Model 95 – rolled off the lines.

By 2000, the company had reportedly sold 13 million of the cameras with the format having, over the years, grabbed the attention of some of photography’s biggest names – from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol.

The expiry of the last existing batches of film this year had sparked intense interest in photographic quarters with Polaroid exhibitions being held in a number of galleries around the world not to mention online (including a gallery founded by Mr Kaps –

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