Have You Heard the Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Lyrics?
Reminiscing About The Polaroid Instant Camera
I have taken for granted that most people know what Polaroid Instant Cameras are, but I'm obviously mistaken when it comes to the youngest generation. My teenage daughter started playing this song (actually titled Hey Ya!) by OutKast a couple of years ago and I would hear it occasionally and wonder what was going on. Why were these young, funky musicians saying that I should shake it like a Polaroid picture? Did they know what they were talking about, and did my daughter know what they were talking about? It turns out that the clever songsters were comparing a dance move to the way a person would take a Polaroid snapshot fresh out of the slot, hold it by a corner, and shake it until it was dry and fully developed, ready for viewing. So at least THEY knew what they were talking about, apparently, although I'm not sure exactly what gets shaken, but that's another question entirely.
But my daughter definitely did not have any idea what a Polaroid picture was, and why anyone would want to or need to shake it. So I explained to her that a Polaroid Instant Camera was actually a line of cameras popular in the 60s ,70s and 80s that were designed to let you take a picture, let it develop and "cure" in the air (it took about 30 seconds), and there it was. No need to take your film to the drugstore or photoshack (remember those?), no need to download your snapshots to your computer and print them out, hoping the ink hadn't run out yet and the paper was good enough. It was and is really cool, and there are, in this day and age,web sites devoted to the vintage camera and to pictures taken with it.
It's hard to explain the memories I associate with these instant cameras, but they are universally good. The viewfinder was relatively big, and covered one eyeball perfectly. You made sure your camera was loaded with film and batteries, and lined up your shot. All the models were cute and sexy at the same time - the Polaroid 600, the Polaroid 300, the Polaroid SX-70, and of course the One Step. Instant film was expensive, so you had to be careful not to ruin a snapshot. There was the distinctive clicking and whirring sound after you pressed the shutter button. Then the film would emerge from the camera, like a newborn work of art that hadn't quite grown up yet. Right before your eyes it would come to life and blossom into a fully grown photograph. Part of the fun was watching this maturing of the image, seeing your creation come to life in your presence. And the distinctive white border around the picture, with a slightly thicker bottom border, was part of the fun too. It provided the perfect space to add an image caption. The result was almost always a keeper, even if it wasn't really all that great - after all, those film packs cost a pretty penny, and it was worth being reminded of your mistakes to keep even the bad ones.
Fuji Revives The Instant Camera With The Fujifilm Instax 210
The Fuji Instax 200 & 210 Work Just Like Polaroid Cameras
Imagine my surprise when I recently found out that the Fujifilm company had been making an instant camera for a few years, and had a new model out that hobbyists and artists alike were raving about - the Fuji Instax 210
The Instax 210 only comes in one color - black - and has a built-in flash. It has 2 ranges to choose from, and comes with a 45 centimeter close up lens. It also comes with 4 AA batteries, and of course you can use your own rechargeables if you want. The Fujifilm camera is larger in size than other cameras, just like the older Polaroids, since it is a bit bigger than the film pack that goes into it, yet fits comfortably in the hands, and has enough heft to make it feel like what it is - a real high-tech device for taking instant photos.
I really enjoy this camera because it harkens back to an earlier era of instant cameras - the Polaroid Land Cameras so revered by generations of photographers. It makes the same clicking, whirring sound when you click the shutter, and the anticipation for the finished product is the same - you can even shake it like a Polaroid picture if you want to. The film is less expensive, so you can afford to take more snapshots than you could with a Polaroid, and it accomplishes the same purpose - giving the photographer an instant record of what's happening in the moment. The Fuji Instax 210 even lets my daughter and I share the excitement of taking instant pictures, and now she understands me just a little better.