Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid, has authored a lengthy piece for the Washington Post on what Kodak — and whoever buys its film lines — can learn from the fall of Polaroid. The article offers some interesting facts about, and insights into, the film photography industry:
Yes, Polaroid and Kodak made hundreds of millions of cameras. But that was never their principal business: The hardware existed mostly to sell film. This is what business-school professors call the razor-blade model, pioneered by Gillette: The razor is sold at minimal profit or even given away, and the blades sell for years afterward at a healthy profit margin. Amazon does the same with the Kindle, selling it cheaply to encourage enthusiastic e-book buying.
More than anything else, Polaroid’s desire in the 1990s to keep film sales up and film factories humming was what killed the company. When it should’ve been diving into a variety of digital businesses, Polaroid doubled down on analog-film production, building new production equipment and trying to economize.
The business model Bonanos describes is also known as freebie marketing.
What Kodak could still learn from Polaroid [The Washington Post]
Image credit: razor blade by scottfeldstein
It has been a long time since I have asked for something photo related for my birthday. I usually don’t ask, just because I’m very particular about what equipment I use, and my friends and family know it. But this year, it was different. I thought about dabbling in some old school photography, so I asked for a Polaroid 600 camera. My fiancée stepped up to the plate and delivered, gifting me an awesome 1983 Polaroid Sun 600 LMS. I had some fun with my first pack of film, but then it was time to start pushing the envelope.
An idea hit me one day, and I knew I had to try something that I’ve never seen done before: shooting off camera flash with an older Polaroid 600 instant camera.
Siebe Warmoeskerken of De Vetpan studios is a photographer and woodworker based in The Netherlands. This weekend, he decided to combine his two passions by building a custom wenge wood edition of the popular Polaroid SX-70 Alpha instant camera.
Since 2005, photographer and photography lecturer Robert Burley has been documenting the demise of film photography through film photographs. He has traveled around the world with his 4×5 field camera in tow, capturing the demolition of buildings, the equipment that once powered a giant industry, and the desolation of factories that were once teeming with workers.
The photograph above shows a crowd watching the implosions of buildings 65 and 69 at Kodak Park in Rochester, New York on October 6, 2007.
Feast your eyes on this gorgeous twin-lens reflex camera that was designed and built from scratch by photographer Kevin Kadooka, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Portland. It uses a Mamiya-Sekor 105mm f/3.5 Chrome lens and has a Polaroid back for shooting 4.25×3.5-inch instant film, and is crafted out of laser-cut birch plywood.
Last year, we wrote about Poladarium, a tear-off calendar that inspires you with a new Polaroid picture every day. Now, for roughly the same price, you can create one that features your own photographs. Instagram printing company Printstagram has launched a new calendar product that allows you to turn your Instagram photo stream into a beautiful stack of 365 8.5x7cm “Polaroid” pictures.
Have an old Polaroid camera lying around collecting dust? Did you know that you can use it for wet plate collodion photography? AlternativePhotography writes,
Most collodion photographers are using dedicated wet plate cameras, because wet plates are not nice to put into any ordinary modern cameras. There are instructions on how to use some normal medium and large format film cameras in the wet plate process. Most modern large format cameras are readily usable; only a special wet plate holder is needed. The drawback is the silver nitrate, possibly dripping from the holder inside the camera and eventually ruining it.
There are, however, certain types of cameras that you can use as is, without any modifications. Polaroid 100 – 400 series cameras were designed for Polaroid instant pack film, and the empty film holder can be converted to an excellent wet plate holder.
Once your film holder is modified to hold wet plates, you’ll also need to give the camera a makeshift “bulb mode” by covering its ‘Electric Eye’ light meter with black tape. The tutorial also discusses how you can expose wet plates using an enlarger and/or digitally printed film.
Wet plate collodion with a Polaroid camera [AlternativePhotography via Pixel Análogo]
Image credits: Photographs by Jalo Porkkala/AlternativePhotography
Since 2006, Brooklyn-based artist Patrick Winfield has been creating incredible photo collages by photographing and recreating scenes using a large number of individual instant photo prints. Some of his pieces are composed by more than over one hundred instant photos! Although his work mostly featured Polaroid films early on, Winfield branched out into other types as well (e.g. The Impossible Project instant films) after Polaroid bowed out of the industry.
Here’s an interesting piece of photo trivia for today: did you know that Apple’s similarities with Kodak don’t end with Steve Jobs modeling his career and his company after Polaroid? The ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung is strikingly similar to the battle Polaroid had with Kodak many decades ago.
New York magazine editor Christopher Bonanos has written a new book titled Instant: The Story of Polaroid, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of Edwin Land’s revolutionary company. In the video above, Bonanos offers a brief history of Polaroid, including how Land’s ideas inspired entrepreneurs to follow:
[Edwin] Land did no market research. He once said that marketing is what you do if your product is no good. Instead, what he believed was this: you had to show people something they had no idea they wanted, but that was irresistible. To that end, what he would do was turn Polaroid’s annual meeting into sort of a show. He would get up on stage, he would show the new camera, he would demonstrate whatever the new product was, and by the end of the meeting you completely had to have one. You were drawn into Polaroidland.
Remind you of someone? If you’re thinking Steve Jobs, you’re right. The similarities were not a coincidence. As we shared last year, Steve Jobs considered Land his role model, and used many of his ideas in turning Apple into the juggernaut tech company it is today.