Tell the sun to leave the sky,
impossible . . .” – Perry Como, 1970
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.
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-
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-
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.