The age of digital photography is all about chasing perfection. Constant improvements create ever sharper photos and bolder colors. While they all look wonderful on the screen. There’s something about being able to hold a photograph in your hand. Not just a digital image produced by phone or camera, a real physical record of the shot you just took. Thats the allure of Instant Photography. 

With time on my hands during this pandemic, I took the plunge buying two instant cameras (Polaroid Now and Fuji Neo Classic) and three, count them, three instant printers (Canon Selphy 1300, Lifeprint and Fuji instax). I really got the bug. Over the last fifteen years, I have just taken digital photos, my film cameras long departed. So I wanted to try something new. Thus began my instant photography adventure.

After running around and playing with these devices, would I recommend them? The answer is NO, YES, MAYBE...

The cameras produce what can be disappointing results. With Polaroid, you forget in the dreaming of nostalgia that they never really produced wonderful photos. Often they were used for commercial record keeping such as photos for insurance files. True, Ansel Adams and other great photographers did get some wonderful polaroid shots. Trust me though, there were lots of rejects discarded on the floor. The Fuji camera can produce good results closer to digital versions, but only perform best in bright sunlight. These cameras perhaps have the best use when at family gatherings and parties where you can pass around the results. Overall though, if your chasing protection my recommendation on these cameras would be NO

If your looking for Art though, they can produce that. It’s there imperfections that produce artful results. Ones that only reveal themselves with study, much like abstract paintings. Applying the wonder of digital editing (photoshop, iPhoto, etc.} surprising results can be produced. The artist Pat Weavers paints Polaroid photos, turning them into an imagined world (see “Painting on Photos” on YouTube).

This is where instant printers come in. They can print any photo on your phone or iPad, not just the ones taken by your instant camera. My experience is that they produce very good results. The Canon Selphy series photos are the closest to your digital images. Fuji give glorious colors buy has smaller formats and some challenges capturing all the details in the darker areas of the photos. My vote for instant printers is a YES.

There is satisfaction to be found in playing in the instant photography area. A satisfaction of being able to physically seeing a result in your hands. There is art to be found in playing with the photos. Also, joy in passing them out to your friends and family at gatherings and parties. One photographer talked about how he gets free drinks by taking his Fuji instax mini with him into bars and taking photos of people he meets and getting free drinks in return. I haven’t tried that one, but its on my list.

My best advice is that the instant photography adventure is one worth going on. You will experience frustration and disappointments along the way. However, there is fun to be had.

MAYBE, maybe you should take the plunge.

David Young