The thing about Polaroid is that it's more than the sum of camera plus film. It's also society and culture and art, as evocative of an era and lifestyle as a hula hoop or Atari 2600. As an artistic medium, Polaroid photography provides a look and feel no digital medium can duplicate. Plus, in today's era of digital manipulation, a Polaroid image is absolutely authentic, one of a kind, and impossible to trick. What the camera sees is what you get. The article aptly compares Polaroid film and cameras to vinyl records and turntables. Imperfection is part of the charm. No one expects Polaroid to be the commercial giant it once was, but the new investors think they can turn a profit with a business about one-tenth the size of the old one.
What made this story blogworthy for me was that the new company, which calls itself "The Impossible Project," has contacted my friend Paul Giambarba to help them. I've written about Paul before; he designed the original branding and packaging that made Polaroid the hottest product of its day. Everything Apple is doing today to convince you that it's the hip young alternative to stodgy old PCs was pioneered by Polaroid (vis a vis Kodak). My buddy Paul helped invent that strategy. He says it feels good to be back in the saddle again, and I don't think The Impossible Project could have made a smarter hire.
Enjoying a couple of cold ones over lunch with Paul, 2006
A sample of Paul's work for Polaroid: boxes full of wonder and joy. If you're of a certain age, one look at that clean, clever rainbow striping is extremely evocative. See what I mean about Apple? Somebody there is an attentive student of the School of Giambarba.
And here's a glimpse of Paul on a segment about Polaroid done in early 2008 for the CBS Sunday News. This was broadcast just after Polaroid announced it was going out of business and before anyone had stepped up to revive it. Just a note that the corporate weasel at the end, Tom Petters, was subsequently busted by the FBI for alleged involvement in a $100 million investment fraud. Sorry about all the superimposed type on this version ("No More Polaroid Film!" and so forth), it was put there by a fervid fan and wasn't in the original.
If you're interested in Paul's work or the history of 20th century design in general, check out Paul's blog. It contains more information, experience, and wisdom than you'll often find gathered in one place. For a not-so-tall man Paul is a giant, and I'm proud to know him.