The Polaroid Book: selections from the Polaroid Collections of Photography is, as one might guess, a selection of Old, formerly existing Polaroid’s collection of prints. Sadly, New, currently-existing Polaroid (fka “Polaroid Originals,” fka the “Impossible Project”) no longer owns most of the collection: a quick Google at the time I unboxed the book shows it was largely/partly sold off, with some portion going to the Impossible Project, and so this little book is a document of something that no longer exists. Equally sadly, I believe the book is also out of print.
Fair warning: there are a handful of NSFW photographs in the book and so you’ll have to click through to view it. On the whole, the photographs are fairly tame, and do be aware. Also: due to operator error, the unboxing portion presents a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of my “studio,” as it existed in late September, 2021. Interestingly enough, everything (except a few bookshelves) moved since, and my office/playroom now looks much different, if equally junky, so enjoy!
From its earliest days, Old Polaroid—the company started by Edward Land that went out of business in the late 2008—sent cameras and film to professional photographers in return for comments and an image or three for the company archives. In addition, Old Polaroid also just bought things. Land was a bit of an art collector, and that impulse made its way into the company for its first 50 or so years. And as you might guess, there’s some amazing work in it and if you’re the least bit interested in Polaroid or instant photography more broadly, it’s worth checking out.
I, for one, have a fondness for Old Polaroid (and that largely transferred to New Polaroid). The color and image quality from the medium is breathtaking and inspiring in ways that I can’t sufficiently express or explain, and that I get from looking through the viewfinder of my Mint SLR670S, at least, if not exactly from the new film stocks themselves. Really, it may come down to the reproduction…. I have a collection of polaroid images from the Old Polaroid period, and they have neither the color or blur characteristics I associate with Old Polaroid, and that shows up in reproductions of Polaroids by famous/pro photographers…. It may also be the “pro” aspect, both in the operator sense and in the camera sense. Most of my old polaroids were made with the OneStep type: fixed focus, auto flash, etc.; most of the old polaroids made by pros were made with manual cameras 110s and 220s and SX-70s and the like. These days, I have both a OneStep type camera (the excellent OneStep+, which I love for its manual control via the bluetooth connection to my phone—and the Mint SLR670s, which is a modified SX-70, as well as an old Impulse SE that has some issues, and my best shots sometimes almost come sorta within spitting distance of mediocre work from some of the masters, and I don’t know what I’m trying to say…. Oh, right: my love of Polaroid may actually come down to the way reproductions in books (and on phones) look, and not really about the film itself.
Anyway. The book is great and it seems Taschen kept it in print for awhile, so there are copies available. I got a first edition 2005 copy for decent price from a Taschen shelf-copy sale, and it’s a bit worn. At time of writing, Bookfinder shows a handful of copies of the 2019 printing for cheap,* so snag a copy! It’s well worth it.
*Avoid the eCampus and BiggerBooks sellers: they almost always show the lowest price, and in my experience always cancel the order after a few days or weeks of holding my money, and ymmv.