It’s Impossible…..

“It’s impossible . . .
Tell the sun to leave the sky,
It’s just
impossible . . .” – Perry Como, 1970
I took a lot of flack for my recent slamming of Impossible Project films. The folks at Impossible, some of whom are Impossible Project group admins, even unceremoniously tossed me out of their Flickr group and pool. For simply speaking my mind. While I am still a huge admirer of their efforts, and Dr. Florian Kaps’ “full steam ahead” approach in the attempts to develop new products (color 600 films are promised for sometime this year), the feeling is that the films are very experimental, at best. The voodoo necessary just to take a shot, in some cases, really does remove a lot of the fun from shooting. After securing the “latest” films, I have found many of the images literally fading away. This harks back to the early days of Polaroid, when Dr. Land went “back to the drawing board” in development of black and white film, and the concept of coating those materials after the shot was taken, with a nice smelling chemical inside a vial, and put on with a squeegee. Of course, with integral films, you have a mylar coating. The latest advice from the folks at Impossible involves additional voodoo, and cutting the chemical pod off the sheet, preventing additional chemical reactions from taking place. Sorry, guys, at $3 USD/exposure?
The weather in New England this winter was miserable, with almost daily blizzards. Actually, and NO April Fool’s Day joke, today, April 1st, what do we have? A Noreaster. New Englanders pay the highest prices for everything. And we do so because? I digress.
So, I took this shot with the Polaroid Spectra First Edition camera. The image looked quite nice on December 27th, in the middle of a holiday blizzard, it has now faded to near nothingness-

Scan Them As Soon As You Take Them- They Will Fade Away

Scan Them As Soon As You Take Them- They Will Fade Away

Sorry, this is 2011. Why Impossible is seemingly struggling with UV chemicals that stabilize the print is truly baffling. But it also points out what a once-in-a-lifetime genius Dr. Land and his B&W and color engineers truly represented. I am going to try some Impossible films, but not until these films stabilize, and improve. Until that happens, I can think of better ways to spend money, like Fuji Polaroid crack and peel films, and Polaroid 300/ Instax Mini films. Why they do not seem to struggle with the stability issue, and Impossible does, truly boggles the mind.

So, The Impossible Project Is One Year Old….

Dr. Florian Kaps truly is a genius. He is hard not to like. What he did in singlehandedly resurrecting the popularity of instant film photography is nothing short of brilliant. The marketing that The Impossible Project employs is a masterstroke. The products, however, have tremendous opportunity for improvement. I’d love to, for example, take my SX-70 out in the field, without a cardboard light shade contraption taped to the front of this elegant looking device. Just as Dr. Land envisioned a true One Step process, without “garbage” (paper tabs, negatives, etc), some stable Impossible films without voodoo necessary just to take a shot would be nice. Their “cause”, if one could call it that, in an admirable one. But I must say, lately, they have been pushing it a bit too far.

I subscribe to their e-mail newsletter updates. Sometimes there is great information on an exhibit, some techniques, or some manufacturing improvements. But lately, I have received offers for insanely overpriced Polaroid cameras, no doubt marketed to the “Polaroid hipster” movement, and to sell cameras to those who do not want to deal with the e-Bay’s, Goodwill’s, Salvation Army’s, and Etsy’s of the world. I thought I had seen it all when receiving this offer on March 3rd, for a Job Pro 2 600-series camera, which sells as inexpensively as $5 US on eBay, for $120. Come on, guys….it’s a yellow 600.

"It's Impossible", As Perry Como Once Crooned- Yours For Only $120.

"It's Impossible", As Perry Como Once Crooned- Yours For Only $120.

Just as when I thought they had gone over the top, on March 17th, an e-mail goes out from Impossible, offering The Polaroid 680 SLR camera. The folks at Impossible have always seemed to have this strange cultish hero-worship over the SX-70 camera. I have only shot 8 exposures with my SX-70, but really have failed to see what all the rage is over the camera. Yes, it is an aesthetically magnificent, elegant looking device, and yes, it represents Dr. Land’s crowning achievement in the advancement of true one step integral instant film methodologies. But, the camera is almost painfully limited in what it can do. And the prints are, compared to the beloved Color Pack Automatic Land Cameras, well, small. Despite this, it has become THE gadget of choice amongst hipsters. If the nice folks at Impossible love the SX-70, well they must really love the 680 SLR (yes, I know, it is an SLR), because they want us to pay $690 for it. Huh? Despite this insane robbery, this camera, like just about every accessory on Impossible’s web site shop, is sold out. Remember what P.T. Barnum said-

Yours For The Impossibly Low Price Of $690. Couldn't They Have Shaved $10 Off And Made It A More Marketable $680?

Yours For The Impossibly Low Price Of $690. Couldn't They Have Shaved $10 Off And Made It A More Marketable $680?

Today, to celebrate the one year anniversary of general availability, we have films with grey and black borders. Huh? This one just has me scratching my head. But no doubt, also has hipsters dancing in the streets. Couldn’t we have just have had better performance, more stability, and less voodoo necessary to yield a nicer exposure? Enough, Impossible. You are now, by all accounts, a $10 million company. The Polaroid legacy really does deserve better than this-

Gray Frames Don't Make For Better Exposures

Grey Frames Don't Make For Better Exposures

A Bowl Of Soup, Professionally Lit, And Photoshopped, With A Black Frame

A Bowl Of Soup, Professionally Lit, And Photoshopped, But Wait, With A Black Frame

I am trying, really hard, to like The Impossible Project. Every interaction I have had with Impossible NYC has been courteous and responsive. They truly are super nice people, and passionate about Polaroid instant photography. But the films are still experimental, yet are being marketed as if they are mature, finished products. $23.50 for 8 exposures with a grey or black frame? Enough. Simply improve the products. I have posted as such on the Flickr Impossible boards, and of course, was pounced on faster than it takes a sheet of UV+ to develop. Impossible represents hope. If done right, this truly could be a new dawn, a true photographic renaissance of instant film. Please, do it right. and don’t rip enthusiasts off. I have been trying, really trying, to hold back. Offerings such as these make it “Impossible” to do so.