The Impossible Project
Today, we’re going to talk about something that’s been on our radar for a while now; the Impossible Project! (now rebranded as Polaroid Originals after the merge of both companies) If you’ve not heard of it, the Impossible Project was founded in 2008 with one sole purpose; to keep Polaroid film alive. This came about when, in February 2008, Polaroid announced that it would stop making Polaroid instant film. This announcement would have meant the end of an era and the end for Polaroid instant film, as we know it. It’s been already 10 years now from that date and we are super proud for them, they made impossible very very possible, like buying the original company possible!
However, like every good story, Polaroid was saved thanks to a hero: Florian Kaps. He pulled together enough resources to buy Polaroid’s equipment and film stock, and because of his efforts Polaroid instant film is still in existence and used by many artists, creatives, and first time users today.
To magnify the importance we place on Polaroids, we actually set aside some time to catch up with THE Dr. Florian Kaps, the mastermind and superhero behind the project and ask him a few questions on the Impossible Project. While we know why we love Polaroid, we wanted to crawl into Florian’s mind and find out why he saved Polaroid and what was his motivation for doing something that seemed, well…rather impossible.
When we asked him about that moment when he decided to save Polaroid he said that “When I heard the announcement it suddenly became crystal clear that I needed to undertake everything to find an alternative and viable future for analog instant photography”. Something we and mainstream artists are grateful that he did.
But with every challenge, there’s always some obstacles, and we asked Florian what those obstacles were when he started the Impossible Project. He said that “One of the three biggest challenges in the project was: one, trying to get Polaroid to talk to me despite being brushed off; two, trying to stop the company from destroying any remaining instant film production machines; and three, sourcing all the investments in order to save and purchase those machines.” That sounds quite a challenge!
While the Impossible Project has successfully kept Polaroid from being eliminated from the analogue industry, we asked where Florian envisioned the project going five years from now. His biggest hope, he said, “Was that Polaroid will continue to spread the magic, unpredictability and uniqueness of analog instant photography in a world that is more and more dominated by masses of digital images.”
When we asked our final question, and that was what was his most valued image that he had taken on a Polaroid was, he said it was a self portrait. It was the first self portrait that he had ever tried to take of himself on a Polaroid camera and while it didn’t go as successfully as he had hoped, he still, to this day, cherishes it. So maybe we can credit Florian with the first Polaroid selfie? 😉
The Impossible Project was one of the biggest adventures Florian had ever embarked on and given another chance, he said he would do it all over again. He’s now currently working on another analogue adventure which you can follow along with him on at www.supersense.com.
In our experience
While we have no association or ties with the Impossible Project, we love, support, and have a (serious) obsession with film, and consequently, we’re a big fan of the project. That’s why we wanted to raise awareness of its existence and share its magic with you.
Many of us at the lab are Impossible film shooters ourselves and not that we love it cause we don’t have to develop it or scan it (which might be true) but because it is a completely different feeling and a ritual to do so. Here are some examples from polaroid we did and we managed to keep.
*One of the big issues with polaroids that nobody talks about, subjects often want to keep them and it’s hard to say no
IMPORTANT TIP: We personally experienced how important is to keep the polaroid away from the sunlight once they have been shoot, at least keep them in the dark for 20-30min after shooting them. Also they do not like cold temperatures, if shoot in cold enviorments put them in your pocket or in your jacket to make sure they develop evenly 🙂
Funny thing is during the making of this article one of the photographers that work at the lab got approached by Polaroid to do some testing for new emulsions and collections and it’s actually featured on their website, congrats Hector!
Also we feel specialy in love with B&W polaroids, perhaps because it’s a very timeless feeling or just that sometimes we want to disconnect from color. In our experience we find the colors from the 600 series more pleasing than the colors in the SX-70 series, although the camera is much much pleasing to use and a marble of XXth century designed by Eams.
Polaroids are a creative, fun, and carefree option for professionals and non-professional photographers alike. They’re ideal for those who are open to spontaneity and don’t mind not having complete control over the resulting outcome of their images. It’s perfect for those who are wanting to capture a memory more than an impeccably controlled image. So if you think of yourself as a photographer who likes consistency in their images or who likes to have complete control over the light, Polaroids might not be the ideal medium in those instances.
But if you’re looking for another medium that will empower you as the photographer and developer, will give you a little more unpredictability, will offer a little bit more excitement, and will give you vibrant results that will be ingrained in your memory forever; Polaroids are where it’s at.
It’s an instant film that gives you so much in so little time. All you have to do is press the shutter, see the burst of flash, hear the trademark Polaroid sound, see the photograph roll out, and watch as your memory develops right before your eyes.
Wanna shoot some Polaroid?