Without fail, every single time I’ve pulled my Polaroid Land Camera out, people have gotten excited. In the last decade, I bought a beautifully restored Polaroid 185 that was going to be my last and final Polaroid Land Camera after going through a long hunt for a good one. And this year, I’ve made it a point to undo the emotional traumas that the discontinuation caused. When the film dried up, photographers hoarded it, but rarely ever shot it. I, on the other hand, have been using all the packs left in my fridge. I mean, the world just ended for so many folks all across the world. They would’ve regretted not enjoying the experience. And overall, it’s been a very cathartic one.
This isn’t going to be a retrospective of the Polaroid Land Camera. We did that a while back and you can check it out at the previous link. Instead, this post is going to relate my personal story of how I fell in love with the Polaroid Land Camera and came to finally find the one for me.
My true love of the Polaroid Land Camera started years ago around the time I founded this website. The Impossible Project was still cool and had a space open down on Broadway. And I’d been working at B&H Photo in the social media department. A few of us would go out on photowalks and use those cameras. I was introduced to Fujifilm 100C and Fujifilm 3000B there; and ultimately fell in love. So I bought a faulty Polaroid 210 series camera and shot all the film I could. But to me, it was unreliable. That began my search for a fully manual camera.
Back then, the Polaroid 185 was pretty expensive, but I knew I wanted it. My boss at the time and a few others tried to talk me out of buying a camera that’s part of a dying format. But I did it anyway; and I still don’t regret that purchase. Once I had it, I’d bring it into the office at times and guys would pass by. We’d geek out about the camera and share stories. One would tell me about how it made bridesmaids strip at weddings. Another told me about how he shot portraits of his entire family and his kids with it. And yet another related stories about how it was such a fun party camera. Of course, someone had to have the eye-rolling story of how the film was crap and it was only used for proofs for medium format. But as I go through the archive of images shot on the Polaroid 185, here’s what stands out:
- Images of outdoor seating during the pandemic looking very lonely because so many people left the city
- A photo of my first Goorin Bros hat, that I got while working at B&H. There’s this joke that goes around about B&H standing for beards and hats; but it’s not really a joke. This hat was later the victim of a drunken woman’s vomit.
- A photo of a Betty Boop doll that my sister crocheted out of boredom in the very depressive house we grew up in.
- The bedsheets that I left my childhood home with and brought to my first apartment. Those served me well for a few winters.
- A photo of the rack that I used for my clothing and blazers when I had a day job. I still have those clothes and honestly, I’m not sure why I still have so many.
- The view right outside the window from my old desk at B&H
- An image of a woman and her sisters. I met her through my old buddy who I used to play Counter Strike with. I went all the way out to the Hamptons for that image.
- A photo of my mother watching television. She was incredibly hard of hearing and had to have a specific headset that hooked up to the TV to put the audio into her ears.
- A photo of me giving a presentation at the B&H Event space
- Images from various photowalks I went to.
- Images of old film cameras I’ve owned
- Photos I’ve shot of friends wearing cosplay gear
- Various photos of exes, yes I keep those around.
- Scenes from the rooftop of the place I lived in Williamsburg.
Those, all in all, were good times. And this camera has been with me for every single one of those moments. Fujifilm discontinued 3000B, which was a shocker since many of us loved that more than 100C. Eventually, that too was gone. And despite Supersense trying to remake it, we’re not sure it’s ever going to come back.
But this camera taught me as a professional that the products don’t always need to be serious. They can be just for fun. However, it also made me realize that the products that professionals often find fun are the ones that the hobbyists often don’t.