How Using Instant Cameras Can Improve Your Photography

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There is something magical about instant cameras. Depress the shutter button and a little image is ejected, slowly developing before your eyes. More than just a novelty, instant cameras have practical and artistic applications. Here’s how using instant cameras can help improve your photography overall.

What are instant cameras?

First things first. What exactly is an instant camera? Generally, the term instant camera describes a camera that uses self-developing film to deliver a photographic image within minutes of pressing the shutter button.

How Using Instant Cameras Can Improve Your Photography
The Instax Mini and Barbie Polaroid instant cameras. f/4, 1/50, ISO 500

The first commercially viable instant camera system was introduced in 1947 by the founder of Polaroid, Edwin Land.

A year later, Land’s Model 95 Land Camera and the corresponding film went on sale in a department store in Boston. The cameras, which dramatically altered the accessibility and creative possibilities of photography, sold out in mere minutes.

Land and Polaroid continued to develop instant camera systems. Originally delivering a sepia-toned image, instant film graduated to black and white and then to color in 1963.

However, up until 1972, using instant cameras was much less straight forward than the process we know today. Exposed Polaroid film required a photographer to peel back a negative sheet after 60 seconds to reveal the instant image. This often left chemical residue on the user’s hands.

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