Dear Polaroid Originals, owners of the last known and in the first place Polaroid instant film manufacturing plant in the world,
If today I chose to write the present open letter to you, it is mainly for the reason that I do not feel happy of how things have turned, and to let you know how I completely, as today, lost my enthusiasm about using your « Polaroid 600 » replacement product, as known « Polaroid Originals Color 600 Film ». I will specially be talking about, and focusing on your current Color film, but not about all the rest of the range offered to the Polaroid Classic Cameras (B&W, or Duochrome… etc), even though I will still be showing photos taken with other films than the Color ones, in order to show the affection that I have, or had, for your other magical instant films, mostly under the « The Impossible Project », or shorter, « Impossible » name. My views may not reflect the opinion of all your users, members, customers, or even Pioneers (never forgetting the legacy), or maybe not even anybody, but my feelings are honest, and as I have been using your film since September 2013, I truly think that my word will mean something to you.
So let’s start with my journey on the instant film wave. It was in 2012 that I had, for a reason that I can’t remember, thought about my parent’s old Polaroid camera — a 636 Talking Camera — and after a quick search, couldn’t find it. Then I had the simple reflex that a lot of people will surely have today: I went to Amazon’s website and typed “Polaroid”. One of the first result, was the “Polaroid PIC 300”, along with a bi-pack of film. I went and completed my order. Of course by that time I wasn’t aware at all that it wasn’t a camera truly manufactured and engineered by Polaroid, but instead a Instax mini camera made by Fujifilm, branded for Polaroid.
Of course, and as I was a quite heavy user of Instagram, I shared my firsts Instax mini shots using hashtags, and quickly gathered with other users of both Instagram and Instax film. I made a web friend in particulary, Margaret, who quickly told me the story about how Polaroid stopped making all their instant film 4 years earlier, but that another company was born to make a new film, The Impossible Project. And as well, Margaret told me that my camera wasn’t anything Polaroid but the logo applied on the body of the camera, and on the pack of the sheets of film.
I really wanted to take POLAROID photos… plus the “mini” format of Instax film wasn’t truly my taste. Too small for me. And after just 3 or 4 packs the camera had its retirement. The reason is that I finally could put my hands again on my parent’s camera, the Polaroid 636 Talking Camera. We are now in 2013, September. I directly went onto Impossible’s website. Impossible was making space for their next generation film, so they made a clearance sale of their PX 600 Cool Silver Shade film. If I’m not mistaken, I chose to order a bi-pack because the price was truly interesting (I guess I had plenty of money to spend at that period), and also the silica gel bags, to dry the photos and avoid the quick fading that the film was experiencing back then.
The film arrived and I was MUCH excited. I waited for an opportunity of shooting a group of people for my first photo. I was with friend in a Asian festival, called Animasia, in the south of France. Here it is:
My love story with instant film / Polaroid photography / The Impossible Project had just begun… and as you will see, during the next months, my madness truly increasing like a balloon inflated with a compressor.
I had to resist and calmly use my 16 Silver Shade shots because Impossible had nothing for sale any more. Their new films were to be released, the Impossible 600 BW and 600 Color, with brand new packagings, brand new formulas for both type of film, coloured frames… I was so crazy that I knew about the new packagings before everybody. The reason was that page on Behance: https://www.behance.net/gallery/8688935/Impossible — Of couse, to respect Impossible’s hard work, I kept the secret. To wait and prepare for the new film, mostly the Color one, that I was looking forward to try, and as my 636 camera was still loaded with film, I decided to buy another camera. And had my hands on a 635 LightMixer Program + a 1000 model (Box type SX-70) for just 15 euros. I couldn’t believe it… maybe the guy was getting rid of the camera because he didn’t believe in The Impossible Project?
October 2013. New film are released. I wasted no time and put my first order. I knew that Impossible was going to release a lot of special editions: gold frames, silver frames, rainbow frames, black frames… and so I was going to make several orders to try all their film. But for now, the Classic “white frames” 600 film was at my doorstep. I packed my 635 LM and the fresh 600 film, and went to one my heaven’s place: the Guitar Shop. I was very careful and read all the precautions about shooting the film. Keep it in the dark, do not shake, do not bend. Wait 35-40 minutes. But man… I wanted to see my photo develop, isn’t that the whole point of the integral film?! Anyway, we all had to deal with it, and that made the Impossible film special, and truly a social re-connectivity in the digital, fast forwarding world. So I pressed the shutter button, and waited. Waited. Waited… and some time after… boom. Here it was:
To explain how I will display my photos through the letter, every caption will contain the batch/manufacturing date of the film which the photo is from. Since 2013, I shot with a lot of batches and can easily recognize the period just by looking at a photo.
We are now approaching December 2013. I learnt a lot more about Polaroid in general, and the cameras. I understood that a beast of a camera to shoot with was the Polaroid SLR 680. I didn’t wait anymore. I went to eBay. One camera was listed “as is” with two packs of expired Polaroid 779 expired since 2007. I won the auction. Guess who was excited to try out a 30 years old camera, and the true film that the camera was meant for? I guess I was. But here what I caught using Impossible film:
I bought every special editions Impossible had offered by that time, and every photo I took with my SLR 680 has been a real pleasure to see. Yes, I had to wait 40 to 45 minutes (most of them were shot during winter), but in the end, the final results were always promising. No defects, strong colours, and a lot of fun with all my photography guests. I also took a lot of BW photos… and no matter what, I was very happy of what Impossible was making for our cameras.
Then, I had a little break from Impossible film because I had my hands on very expensive but truly exciting and fast emerging Polaroid 600 film. I then met a friend from Twitter, Ian, who I share a love for analogue photography with, Impossible had just deal with the lost of component and the photos from that period suffered from a lack a colour rendition and saturation.
During 2014’s summer, I didn’t shot many photos, partly because of the film being sad to use (I really love strong colours), and also because of my job not giving me free time. Also I broke my SLR680 (by painting it in a bad way)… so I just swapped for a second Polaroid SLR 680 and took a photo of my SLR 680 (painted in blue). Impossible was back with a new formulae in 09/2014 and colours were good again (or at least better). And they gifted me a nice “SMILE” sticker and plently other goodies, too! I was very proud being one of their followed user back then.
During 2014’s winter, I couldn’t shoot a lot either. Money was tight and I had no job. I remained loyal to Impossible and follow all their work and progress. But my luck changed and I finally got a job at Disneyland Paris by the end of the year! I could meet good friends and cowokers there.
I remained very busy for the beginning of 2015, but I could save money thanks to my new job, I could have my two (2) SLR 680 cameras were off for a full repair job at Matt aka 2nd Shot SX70’s place in New York state. Visit https://www.2ndshotsx70.com/ for more information! Then, Impossible had released a beta film of their Color iteration, in May of 2015. I could have my hands on 1 pack and I was thrilled to use it!
All the 8 photos with that pack were truly great and full of colours. Only suffering from blue horizontal lines but that was corrected later in the Gen 2 film they were about to release in September of 2015… In the mean time, I continued using the Gen 1 of “Impossible Color 600” instant film…