Image: Squeaky Marmot
The instant camera was finally put to pasture early this year, as the Polaroid Corporation stopped producing film for the iconic take-and-shake camera. Polaroid wisely took advantage of the cessation to market their pocket-sized PoGo instant printer, which received modest praise, but did not include a camera of its own, relying instead on Bluetooth- and USB-equipped mobile phones.
But now the company has announced plans to release a next generation instant camera with the PoGo's "ZINK" printing technology built right inside, ditching the PoGo's 3-by-2 format for the old instant's familiar 4-by-3. And they've asked the readers of Amateur Photographer magazine to help them design it.
One trouble sign: the camera is reported to be "focused on 'professional and business users'". While I'm certain there are plenty of uses for a new instant camera to be used in the workplace, such a pop culture classic should surely be aimed at casual users first.
Here are a few of my suggestions for a new Polaroid instant camera:
• Keep it retro – If adding the printer inside will preclude the new camera from being pocketable, I'd not worry about making the thing as small as possible but instead try to evoke the shape of Polaroid instant cameras of the past. Perhaps even a rudimentary viewfinder could complement a modern LCD panel in the back.
• Add old timey filters – Everybody loves the rather crappy look of an old Polaroid; it melds perfectly with today's hipster aesthetic. A simple mode on the camera that produces slightly milky images would be a lot of fun — and it could still save a more clear version as a file on the camera's internal memory.
• Add the handle, not the shake – Shaking an old Polaroid never did anything in the first place. Everyone's asking Polaroid to figure out a way to make their heat activated ZINK technology activate by shaking, but that's a waste of time. Just make sure the thick border on the bottom of the images is there and everyone will shake and Sharpie them like always — whether they need to or not.
Polaroid plans to collect everyone's input and put out the new model next year.