11 February 2008

Please don't, Polaroid.

Those who know me know that I love taking photos. I love it. I am currently involved in six photography projects. One involves taking photos of food for a new trivia section in Mental Floss called Dietribes (for this I have used my Nokia N95 8GB's camera). One is for a global project organized by a new friend in Alberta that utilizes disposable Kodak cameras. One is a photo-a-day type of thing with my friend Ken in Richmond, VA (again the N95 8GB). One is fotoprojekt, which I slacked on for a long time but am picking up again (I use my Minolta Xg for this, mostly).

The final two photo projects involve the Polaroid I got when I was in 9th grade: a postcard exchange with a friend in California, and a ten-item Polaroid scavenger hunt with my pen pal in Quebec. Seeing a little square image with my address written on the white part with a Sharpie is so, so nice to come home to among the sea of long skinny rectangular envelopes with clear plastic address windows.

(I also go out with my Holga on occasion, even though most of those rolls of film come out black. I am not a very good photographer, I just enjoy it to no end.)


Anyway, my point is that I am sad. I just now read this terribly sad NYTimes piece on the end of Polaroid as we know it.
Polaroid Corp. is dropping the technology it pioneered long before digital photography rendered instant film obsolete to all but a few nostalgia buffs.

Polaroid is closing factories in Massachusetts, Mexico and the Netherlands and cutting 450 jobs as the brand synonymous with instant images focuses on ventures such as a portable printer for images from cell phones and Polaroid-branded digital cameras, televisions and DVD players.
Now, I'm sure they are sad too. I'm sure they thought long and hard before doing this. I'm sure that they weren't making as much money as they potentially could have. But now hundreds people are out of a job and thousands (hundreds of thousands?) are out of a simple technology that has brought so much joy in the past. All but a few nostalgia buffs? It can't be. I kind of refuse to believe that. I think there are many more than "a few" of us who feel a connection to and affection towards Polaroids. I want there to be a global survey measuring people's love of the memories, symbol of spontaneous fun and aesthetic of Polaroid photos (I never said I wasn't idealistic and unrealistic at times).

I miss Ken.

I am not going to pretend to know about Polaroid's revenue, lack thereof, projections, metrics or any other money and numbers-related things. But the equity that they have just based on the name... I mean, look at what happens when you simply type "polaroid" into Amazon. I have been out with friends before and heard them gasp when coming across a book of Polaroids at bookstores, no matter the topic of the photos.

for Laura

Is there anything we can do? One of the examples I didn't mention about Clay Shirky's talk last week dealt with a real estate professional who was SO ANGRY because of the state of our airline industry that she singlehandedly put together the online petition that led to the Passenger Bill of Rights. I am pretty sure that there are enough people passionate enough about this technology to do something similar. I don't know how to go about that. Anybody? I don't know. The jobs have already been cut and the factories are probably half closed by now.

happiness = this

No, I know that the world isn't over. I know that there are far worse problems out there (Far worse. I know. Thinking about them makes me feel silly for even writing this). And yes, I read in that article that Fujifilm will continue to produce instant film. Does it look the same? I have no clue. I'll have to find out, I guess. I am still sad.

EDIT | Being the twit that I am, I managed to miss this very important sentence in the article: "Meanwhile, Polaroid is seeking a partner to acquire licensing rights for its instant film, in hopes that another firm will continue making the film to supply Polaroid enthusiasts."
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