What Is A Polaroid?

If you’re new to photography, then the word ‘polaroid’ is probably something you’ve seen a lot.

Polaroid photography is a vital part of the medium that can be a great way for you to create certain kinds of photographs and experiment with a very specific type of equipment.

But one look online and you’re getting some confusing definitions – what exactly is polaroid? Is it a style of photography, or is it a manufacturing company?

If you find yourself wondering these questions, then you should you that you’re not the first. Don’t panic!

We’re here to help you! In this article, we’re going to be taking you through everything to do with polaroid photography, including what it means and how you can get started.

We’ve also included a short FAQ that will help clear up any questions you may have left over at the end.

So let’s get right into it!

What Is A Polaroid Camera?

How Do You Use Polaroid Cameras

A polaroid, or instant camera, is a camera that uses self-developing film to create a fast photo that will print out instantly.

Since the advent of affordable cameras, these cameras have acted as a way for the average person to do away with the arduous development of photographs and create instant memories no matter where they are in the world.

Whilst there is a lot of history behind the creation of the polaroid camera, it is often considered to have been created by the American scientist Edwin Land.

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In 1948 he revealed the world’s first affordable instant camera – which is known as the Land Camera.

Polaroid Vs Instant Camera

One thing you might be wondering about is why the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. This is a common point of confusion when it comes to this topic, and is something that is worth considering.

You should know that all instant cameras work by creating polaroid pictures.

This system works by a camera using a light-sensitive film that is then exposed to the captured light of the shot in question. The camera will then get to work developing the film instantly, whereupon it will create a negative image.

This negative image is then exposed to light once again it is printed and it usually takes a few minutes to transform into a positive image.

You should know that polaroid and instant cameras are often used interchangeably.

Another thing that you might find confusing is the fact that there is a company called polaroid, which doesn’t only make polaroid cameras.

If we go back to the advent of this imaging system, we can see that the original inventor Edwin Land went on to create the Polaroid Corporation, which at first specialized in polaroid film cameras.

So then – not all polaroid cameras are designed and sold by the Polaroid corporation, as other companies have used this same technology to create their own instant cameras.

Today, instant cameras remain some of the most popular choices for casual photographers looking for an easy way into photography.

What Is A Polaroid?

What Are The Advantages Of Polaroids

Depending on the situation ‘a polaroid’ can refer to a few different things. We’re going to break these down for you below.

  • Polaroid Camera – this usually refers to any camera made by the Polaroid Company. If somebody tells you that they have a polaroid camera, they’re probably going to have something designed by this company. However, they could also mean that they have an instant camera designed by another, but are just using the term as a way to describe the kind of camera they have.
  • Polaroid Photograph – this is usually a blanket term for any photographs produced by an instant camera. Polaroid photographs tend to be small and are often used as a great way to capture quick moments. You’ll often see polaroid photographs used in street photography.
  • Polaroid Photography Style – polaroid photography is sometimes used to describe a specific photographer’s style. If they primarily use polaroids or instant cameras to capture their shots, then they can be considered a polaroid photographer. A famous example of this is the photographer Mike Brodie, who is often nicknamed the ‘Polaroid Kid,’ who did a duo of projects entirely with a polaroid camera.
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It’s worth noting that with modern editing software, it’s also possible for a photographer to make digital images appear as if they were shot on a polaroid and this is sometimes done as an artistic choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do People Like Polaroid Cameras?

One of the main appeals of polaroid cameras is their simplistic nature. Being able to instantly capture a moment and then show it to others moments later is something that has persisted through time.

While you can easily achieve this with a digital camera these days, the physical photo is something that is more romantic and traditional.

The general aesthetic of a polaroid photograph is also something that is hard to replicate and very unique, and a favored style for some photographers.

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Do Polaroids Use Film?

Polaroid cameras (aside from modern digital versions) use film as a way of capturing a photo.

Depending on the camera you have, you may need a different type of film, and it’s always worth having a stock pile of refills for when you need them!

Final Thoughts

Whilst there is some variation in how the term polaroid is used within photography, generally, it refers to an instant camera or the photographs that they produce.

If you’re new to photography and have yet to buy your first camera, polaroid can be a fantastic way to get started on film without having to worry about more complex development methods.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a polaroid camera, this company makes some of the best around and it’s definitely worth considering.

We hope that this article has cleared up some of the confusion around what polaroid means within photography and that you’re now a lot more comfortable with the term as well as some of the confusion around it.

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