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True I Haven’t Used One In Years But I’ll Miss The Polaroid Camera

Updated on December 9, 2008


Just from the title alone I get it. I get why Polaroid stopped making their cameras last year and will quit making the film for those cameras this year as soon as they make enough film to last everyone who has a camera and wants to use it into 2009. But it’s more than the camera itself, it’s about nostalgia and like it or not, when you’re in your forties you tend to start looking back on things in your life that they no longer make with a sort of “Windsong” – you know, the fragrance that supposedly “stays on his mind.” True I haven’t used one in years but I’ll miss the Polaroid camera – Don’t Get Me Started!

I can remember one of my parents’ first Polaroid cameras, it was an SX-70 and it was sheer 70’s sensational. It had fake leather looking panels and the whole camera could fold flat and then with the touch of just one button, “WHAMMO!” it popped up into a camera that with the click of one button shot out a photo that would develop over the next few minutes. It was better than sex for a ten year old who desperately wanted to be the center of everyone’s attention. And now, still thinking about it, if I could get my hands on one of those cameras (we know I could get the film through 2009) maybe it would be better than sex even now. We just hadn’t ever seen anything like it before and I remember the fake leather shoulder bag that used as a carrying case for it just pushed me right over the edge. (Plus it gave a young gay boy an excuse to wear a “bag” on vacation)

My family has been obsessed with photos for long before I came into existence. My mother has boxes and boxes of family photos. There are some of the relatives from Russia and some from America and in both cases we have no idea who most of these people are any more. I love when one of my aunts will come over and they’ll go through the boxes. The conversation always turns to, “No, I think that was Ida Sussin not Rita the Dyke. Whose bar mitzvah was that anyway and why was she wearing that dress?” I howl. There are several relatives that I only know from these pictures (and the ones that fall into this category aren’t all dead either). In fact, I think if I ran into some of these people today unless they were in sepia tone I wouldn’t recognize them at all.

My mother’s father lived to document his family in film and had one of the very first Polaroid cameras in the world. Although he died a few months after my birth it is with great affection and a smile in her tear filled eyes that she would tell us about her father taking pictures and then smearing the developer wand over the Polaroid to make what are now housed in those horribly non-acid free pages of a bound large green flowers on the fabric puffy binding with the gold writing that says “photo album” on the cover. They have those clear pages that would lift up to reveal the sticky page underneath. The photos are cut up to fit on the page, there are some missing and some that slide out when you pick the album up where the stickiness no longer sticks. Many of the photos are indeed a product created by the Polaroid Company.

So how can I not miss the Polaroid camera as it takes its final, “Shhzzt” (the sound I remember so well from when the photos would spit out the front)? Those sounds are all electronic now, something you can download to be the sound of when you take a picture on your cell phone. I will tell you, it’s not the same. It’s not the same as waiting with wild anticipation to see the image as it magically came into existence (only to find that your mother had chopped off everyone’s heads again). It’s not the same as having something to shake (which you thought made it develop faster when we now know that it didn’t and probably only annoyed the shit out of the inventor of the film and the film itself that suffered from shaken Polaroid syndrome). It’s not the same because you don’t have a solid photo in your hand with a white border just meant for you to write something silly on it with a Sharpie pen for when you gave it to your friend. So true I haven’t used one in years but I’ll miss the Polaroid camera – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • Melissa G profile image

      Melissa G 9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      Great hub, as usual--very witty and nostalgic. Since childhood, the Polaroid has struck me as one of the greatest inventions of all time, for many of the reasons you listed here (especially the Shhzzt, the mindless and impatient flapping of the film, and watching the photos magically appear). The technology that must have gone into them is pretty mind blowing, and I'm sad to learn that they've finally become obsolete.

      R.I.P., Polaroid! You've lived a full life, and you won't be soon forgotten!

    • denise mohan profile image

      denise mohan 9 years ago from California

      I was just telling my husband that we bought our older daughter a polaroid & now it is obsolete. So that was another crummy Christmas gift! Bummer, i loved that old camera. I feel like it is a sign of becoming obsolete myself. i think younger than my age but my body does not comprehend that condition. I'm going tommarow to buy up all the film I can. If there is any. Please vivit my hub, I would enjoy your comments and point of view. i am going thru a very trying time...