I've been shooting a lot with Instax film lately. Instax is the modern equivalent of Polaroid film, which can still be had, but I prefer Instax:
- It's mass produced in a very consistent way by Fuji (mostly for kids and the Japanese market).
- It comes in black and white and color, and with a variety of border options (again, mostly for kids and the Japanese market).
- It's relatively inexpensive (about $1 per print).
- The newer Instax cameras look cool and are inexpensive, while offering bulb and double exposure options (arguably the most useful features for analog enthusiasts).
As the iPhone becomes a more capable camera every year, I'm forced to go to analog to derive the same kind of constraints benefits I used to get from the phone. I could jump in with an expensive film camera, but that doesn't provide enough constraint for me.
I stopped saying gear doesn't matter years ago. It matters. But in the opposite way most people think it matters. When your'e in a creative rut, taking automated parts of your process away stimulates creative thought, because it has to. It literally forces you to think in areas of your brain you had previously shut down.
But the best thing about instant film is it's ability to create genuine one-of-a-kind photographic prints. There's no negative, no file, just a print. You either get it right the first time or you don't get it at all.
It's not just a good constraint for the photographer, it's also a useful constraint for the viewer. It's inherently valuable due to built-in scarcity. I love that.
At my son's birthday party last week, I took lots of photos, but the ones taken with the Instax were magical to the kids. Most had probably never seen an instant print coming to life right in front of them. I gave out prints to all the kids as souvenirs of the party. They guarded them as if they were made of gold.
This post originally appeared in my personal newsletter.