Impossible to Possible

My uncle passed away from cancer in August of 2014. At this point, my love for photography and especially film photography was already solidified and growing at a pace I have not been able to keep up with. I took his death pretty hard. We weren’t particular close but we shared a connection. I shared the red hair with him that belonged to my grandmother Mary and he was the closest thing I had to my mom’s side of the family. He was the only thing she had left too. 

After we got back to Colorado from Philly, I sat in my room thinking about him until I couldn’t think about it anymore. I decided to go take photos to distract myself. My mind clearly was not in the right place and I drove off with my lens on my trunk, never to be found again. I took that death pretty hard too. 

A few months later, I was on Amazon ordering a replacement lens and I found myself on my purchase history and there it was. A weird sign from my Uncle and from my past. See, I was always sensitive to the fact I didn’t try to become a photographer sooner than I did but in reality, it was always there. 

2008. A blue and grey polaroid camera was ordered by a 15 year old Sam with a $50 gift card she received from her aunt and her red-headed uncle that previous Christmas. 

There was a huge problem here and this probably was a defining moment that determined my extreme perseverance and mindset that I needed to “save” film: Polaroid had declared bankruptcy and was putting a halt to all Polaroid film, something I did not know at the time that I had ordered this camera off Amazon. 

If you know me, I am stubborn as hell. Ask my older brothers who had to deal with me growing up and my mother. When someone tells me I can’t do something, it makes me want it SO MUCH MORE. It’s like inception. When I brought my new polaroid to my local camera shops in my hometown, they turned me away, told me film was dead, told me Polaroid was no more. The guys at the counter probably expected me to go home feeling defeated, then, chucking the polaroid camera aside, they probably expected me to order a digital point & shoot so I could take photos of myself for my Myspace page or Facebook or whatever the kids were using at the time (I did do that too). But I know that they did not expect me to go home and spend hours Googling the crap out of a polaroid film replacement. It was then I discovered Impossible Project, a start up trying to get funding to keep polaroid alive. 

If you don’t know the history, the founders of Impossible Project bought the last Polaroid factory in the Netherlands along with the last of the Polaroid equipment. They’ve been mixing chemicals and creating new formulas to replace what was discontinued but it was never quite the same. I blame Polaroid’s patent on their film but there are multiple factors to why the chemical make up of Impossible’s film was what it was. 

Their popularity grew with the unpredictable results of their film. They refurbished old cameras, teamed up with artists to create insane borders, they pushed out revolutionary film with pinks and red and yellow tones. They not only revitalized it, they redefined what it meant to be a polaroid picture (and don’t you dare fucking shake it like one or show your developing film the light). 

The reason Impossible Project was given its name was because what they were attempting to tackle at the time was just that, impossible. Or so it seemed. Their goal was to bring Polaroid back to its roots and 80 years to the day, they did just that. 

September 13th, 2017. Impossible’s website went dark and their film was for sale at Samy’s camera in LA. I knew something was up and a huge announcement was on its way but I did not predict what was about to go down yesterday. The Verge called it the “ultimate plot twist”: The Impossible Project is now Polaroid Originals and Polaroid is in on the secret too. 

There is not a lot of information regarding what this means for the cult classic polaroids and film that made Impossible Project special. But here is what we do know: 

The Impossible Project web address immediately directs you to 

Impossible Project’s Instagram is now @PolaroidOriginals_

A new camera was revealed, based off the classic one-step from back in the day. Film, however, does not come with the built in battery like the old school packs. The batteries are in the camera itself and they are rechargeable. 

There is a new type of film to go into the new camera. Since it’s special, they branded the film  I-Type and it is only usable in the new camera. Because the pack does not contain the battery, film is cheaper ($15.99 w/out tax). 

With that innovation announced, the classic films are back too with a new formula. 600, SX-70 and Spectra. It looks like development time is 15mins and prices are at $18.99 (with out tax) for a pack of 8 frames which beats the $25-27 we were paying when Impossible Project was doing it on their own and development time is a lot shorter than what we are use to. 

All of this is insanely cool and if you’re not freaking out, I don’t know who you are. There are a lot of things to celebrate about the merge of Impossible Project and Polaroid. With Kodak reintroducing Super 8 and Ektachrome, with Fuji pushing out new polaroid products of their own, with Polaroid back in the playing field, we may see more films being brought back to life (cough cough peel apart film and Polaroid 669???). It’s the official start of a new era. Film is back baby because it never left. 

Thank you to all my film nerds for this. We fought hard, we spent a lot of money, we were passionate about it every step of the way. I’m excited for film’s future. But it’s not over. Keep. Shooting. Film. Let’s get it. 

Words and photographs by Sammy Keller.

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