Every once in a while I like to step back from the world of exposure metering, aperture settings, film speeds, f-stops, and everything else that goes along with SLR photography, and take a step into the less complicated world of simple pointing-and-shooting. It is something of a return to an earlier way of doing things - after all, all my photography work prior to 2002 was done using point-and-shoot cameras: the first an old Kodak Instamatic that used 110 format film (back in 1995 when the format was still alive and film for it both plentiful and readily available at the local grocery store), followed by a pocket-sized 35 mm "focus free" camera with built-in flash but no zoom capability, superseded soon afterward by a much more advanced Nikon "Zoom Touch 470" with zoom capability which I actually used all the way up to early 2008. The control afforded by an SLR camera with interchangeable lenses and the ability to precisely control framing, focus, depth of field, and exposure time allows for a far greater degree of latitude in how one shoots and a far greater control in the results one can get. But these benefits come at the price of bulkier and heavier equipment, as well as a much steeper learning curve, and every now and then one may long for the days of simple, no-brainer pointing and shooting.
I'd never used an instant camera before May 2007. To be honest, my main motivation for doing so was the desire to see what it was like before digital photography killed off the format completely. I'd felt for a long time that the format's days were numbered, and that
Polaroid instant film would very soon go the way of flash cubes and 110 format film. Using an instant camera requires that I essentially try to forget almost everything I've learned about photography over the years other than how to point and shoot, so in a very real sense, shooting Polaroids was like going all the way back to the very beginning. What can I say . . . I'm nostalgic.
The last new packages of Polaroid 600 film expired in October 2009. Since then, Fuji has introduced a new instant photo system which I stumbled upon one day inside a local Wolf Camera outlet, and the Impossible Project has attempted to revive the Polaroid system with a new chemical formulation. So this may not, in fact, be the end of instant film photography for me. Stay tuned ...