Table of contents:
- Edwin Land and the Polaroid Company
- What was the famous Polaroid camera
- Practical disadvantages or artistic merit?
Video: How Polaroid photographs conquered the world and became a special trend in 20th century art
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
One day a little girl asked her father why the photo doesn't appear right after the bird flies out? And if for most adults such a question would have remained one of the usual childhood fantasies, then in this case the girl was lucky: her father was the inventor Edwin Land, who himself was on fire with the idea of inventing a device with "instant" photography. It turned out, by the way, that it is interesting for artists as well - Andy Warhol alone created several hundred works using the Polaroid camera.
Edwin Land and the Polaroid Company
In the 21st century, it is already difficult to be surprised that after the “flying bird” there immediately appears a photo that can be seen by the photographer and everyone else. It is hard to remember that before the process of making a print of a picture on paper took quite a lot of time and required not only darkness and special reagents, but also skills: if the film was handled carelessly, it could be damaged - and it was lost, the frame could not be restored. But even those who knew how and loved to work in a darkroom - professional or home, amateur, had to go through all the necessary stages to see what was filmed on camera. And the father of the inventor, Edwin Land, found another way.
By that time Edwin Land was already the head of the Polaroid company, it was founded in 1937 to implement his ideas in the field of light polarization. Since childhood, Land was seized with a thirst for discovery, was fond of physics, and conducted numerous experiments. As a result, in the number of patents received during his life - 535 - he was second only to Thomas Edison. It is interesting that Edwin Land's family was from Ukraine: his grandfather and grandmother Solomonovich left for the United States in the eighties of the XIX century. During the paperwork, then there was a confusion associated with the word "land" (who arrived Avram and Ella did not know English and misunderstood the question asked), which is why the new surname of the Solomonovichs and their descendants was "Land".
Edwin was born an American citizen in 1909. He managed to study a little at Harvard University, but a year later he left there for New York to do what attracted him most: the study of light, optical experiments, the development of new devices and photography.
What was the famous Polaroid camera
The very first patent for a camera "for instant photography" was awarded in 1923 to Samuel Schlafrock. True, in fact it was all the same apparatus with film, it was possible to simply develop and print the pictures with a portable photographic laboratory, which was attached to the device. But the Polaroid company in 1948 presented its hitherto unprecedented device, which actually printed the frames itself! Initially, it was only black and white, and since 1963, color Polaroid photos were also available to buyers. During shooting, the paper and photographic materials were pressed against each other and moved into the development chamber, on the way breaking a capsule with paste, which spilled over the surface of the paper, reacting with substances in different parts of the photograph. As a result, a few minutes after the shot, a positive image was obtained. The camera, which immediately after taking a paper photo, became a popular and favorite toy - at the same time becoming a convenient way to perform purely practical tasks, for example, filming for documents.
Polaroids, especially colored ones, quickly won the sympathy of ordinary people - and at the same rate - people of unusual, creative people who saw in the new device for photographing opportunities for the development of art.
Practical disadvantages or artistic merit?
Pictures taken with the Polaroid camera had a somewhat strange color rendering, were often indistinct and distorted the shape of objects depending on the distance from the photographer, did not allow retouching or other processing, and besides, they could not be repeated or reproduced. For the artists of the second half of the 20th century, all of this turned from shortcomings into unique features, new possibilities of photography. Many masters eagerly responded to the opportunity to experiment, moreover, the uniqueness of each photo, the speed of creating an object of art - only a few minutes or hours needed to prepare a composition or a shooting location - turned the process into an exciting game.
In addition, purely commercial factors also worked: in order to ensure advertising and sales of Polaroid cameras to ordinary Americans, Land invited artists to create and then bought their photos, so potential owners of new devices got the impression that they could buy a truly first-class product. The great landscape photographer Ansel Adams became the art consultant of the company, Lucas Samaras made a number of works using the Polaroid camera - the creations of these artists are now estimated at tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Collages from multiple snapshots were created by David Hockney. Andy Warhol also distinguished himself in the “Polaroid” style of photography, who loved to express himself brightly and simply in his works, which the camera also allowed to take instant pictures. Warhol created a series of photographs of celebrities - Sylvester Stallone, Liza Minnelli, Princess Carolina of Monaco and many others, portraits that gave the impression of the intimacy of the moment, the closeness of the stars to mere mortals.
Often photographers used instant photos as a “rough draft” for “regular” shots, this helped to better imagine the final result. Some, such as the photographer Helmut Newton, later published such "draft albums".
Artists also used wide-format cameras to create their masterpieces, and the release of the SX-70 was a big event as it opened up opportunities for retouching and changing the photo. The boom of cameras for snapshots occurred in the eighties and nineties of the last century.
The advent of digital technology, including cameras, shook the state of affairs for the company, moreover, its founder has already passed away (he died in 1991). In the 2000s, Polaroid began bankruptcy proceedings, and all attempts to restart the sale of cameras that brought glory to the company were unsuccessful. But the works of photographers, created on paper and using Polaroid cameras, now adorn museums around the world and are valued as works of art - unique and irreproducible.
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