A trip down the memory lane aided by Polaroid’s latest marketing campaign

Mansi recently drew my attention to this outdoor marketing campaign by Polaroid. We both found it funny that what was once considered instant” is too slow by our modern standards. I saw this campaign again on my way to work today and was overcome with nostalgia.

Real Life is…Real Life is…

Real Life is having to wait”.

I am old enough to have lived through times when we’d wait weeks if not months to see our pictures. You see, film rolls used to cost money. Processing exposed rolls used to cost money too1. As a parsimonious middle class family in the 1980s in India, you wouldn’t just click anything that caught your fancy and blow through your roll. There’d always be a few shots left on the roll even after a big event like a birthday or a wedding. The camera would be packed away, only to come out on some other minor occasion like the start of the school in winters2. With the remaining shots finally used up, the roll would go into a small, black, plastic canister and taken to the local photo studio’ for processing.

We’d get the prints back after 3-4 days along with a strip of negatives in translucent photo sleeves. We’d sit down around the dining table, pass around the photos3 and reminisce - the events the photos had captured, already a distant memory. And oh the negatives would be promptly stowed away in some mysterious nook in our parents’ almirah and forgotten forever.

If you would have handed me a polaroid camera back then, it would have felt like magic. And to think that Polaroid have to somehow justify keeping you waiting a few seconds…

  1. Little wonder then that Kodak found itself in a lot of trouble once digital photography started to become good enough and all that cash flowing into film rolls and their processing stopped.↩︎

  2. The event would be considered photographically significant because we would be switching into our winter school uniforms.↩︎

  3. With a reminder from mom to hold them from the edges and not leave our grubby fingerprints all over them.↩︎

July 6, 2023