Saturday, December 26, 2009


You would be excused for thinking that I was on the payroll of Polaroid after reading this shameless declaration of love for the PoGo printer, but it is even worse: I am not. So my penchant for the rainbow coloured box, the shiny metallic logo on the sexy black plastic, the trepidant expectation of the little prints to be extruded from its sleek wallet like body with a soft purring noise, and my eagerness to avail myself of their self adhesive backing and stick them all over the place has no excuse or logical explanation other than my gullible taste for it. It was designed to be appealing, and I am attracted to it.

Polaroid and I go back a long time. It is an excruciating tale of largely unreciprocated love, with me on one end spending a lot of money on their films, backs, and cameras, and them duly overcharging me happily for each and every item. There were highlights: three of my photographs made it into the Polaroid European Collection and more has been published in their P professional magazine. In exchange for the irreplaceable originals of my best work Polaroid gave me a box of film apiece, which I received with the unquestioning eagerness and total submission of an addict. If only it were possible to train my clients to be so dependent on me!

As long as things were analogue, this state of affairs lasted unchallenged. Even the advent of a Fuji alternative didn’t really spoil it, they smelled different and I was enslaved to the Cambridge brand for life. It was digital photography that did them in eventually, and I had to go cold turkey as the market for them disappeared. Slowly but surely the range of types narrowed to a trickle, and now I hold on to the last boxes, keeping them for who knows what. They will probably dry up unopened. Equally sad, my camera closet is full of camera backs and developing apparatus for emulsions that are no longer available. The junkyard of a junkie.

But digital photography, as clever as it is, has this problem of being quite virtual in many of its manifestations. You look at it, but don’t hold it. It is instant, in as far as you get to see a preview on your camera display split seconds after the take, but this is just a glowing icon of the image, its fruition often marred by things reflecting in it and its insufficient brightness in daylight conditions. Polaroids were about direct positives, within minutes, in your hands. This is exactly what the PoGo printer promises to do, converting potentially any digital camera or telephone (not your iPhone though, for some reason) into your good old Polaroid camera fondly remembered from happy days gone by. And it is a great gimmick for kids too. Well, if it sold then, why not now?

Admittedly the product could be improved. Maybe a second version made a little larger – prints twice the size – and a larger battery for enhanced capacity would make it more appealing to the professional market. Possibly the quality of the prints can improve too. But even as it is, the PoGo is a great toy with serious potential.

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