Edwin H. Land on the Cover of Life Magazine, 27 October 1972, from Christopher Bonanos’s Instant: The Story of Polaroid.
Many have pointed to Polaroid’s lack of engagement with digital photography as its downfall; however, it may have just found a brilliant way to tackle the digital era.
Founded by Harvard drop out Edwin H. Land in 1937, Polaroid’s headquarters were at 748 Memorial Drive in Cambridge until 1996. In the late 1970s, Polaroid employed 15,000 people in Massachusetts. Ten years later, the company was failing and by 2001 had declared bankruptcy. The company ceased producing instant film in 2009. The company has seen a slight resurgence in recent years by naming pop singer Lady Gaga as the “new face” of Polaroid and rolling out a new line of film and cameras.
In January of this year, Polaroid announced its partnership with a start-up called Fotobar in which the two companies plan to open a chain of retail stores where customers can come in and print out their favorite pictures from their mobile phones. According to a recent Slate.com article, “The artisanal approach is a departure from the original Polaroid experience, which was all about instant gratification. But immediacy is no longer what’s missing in photography today. We can share any image with anyone in seconds with a couple clicks of a smart phone button. What our photographs lack today are the permanence of tangibility.”