The Last Days of the Polaroid

October 20th, 2006 by jeremy

By Jason Bitner, FOUND magazine

Davy Rothbart and I started FOUND back in 2001 as a collaborative project for people to share the hilarious, strange and heartbreaking stuff that they found as they went about their lives. It could be a grocery list on a Post-it note or a dirty drawing on the back of a spiral notebook - if it was interesting, it was fair game.

Not to play favorites, but we always had a special place in our hearts for Polaroids. It seems like everyone has had the pleasure of wielding that clunky camera and snapping a few shots, watching it spit the film back out, and smelling that Polaroid scent. Once the image finally (finally!) materialized after five minutes of impatient shaking, what were you left with? Instant nostalgia - framed and faded, a picture that already looked decades old.

With the advent of digital photography, all of that is fading fast. While the era of the Polaroid picture hasn’t entirely vanished, this expensive and temperamental medium is in its waning days. The digital age offers clearer shots at cheaper prices, while allowing the photographer more freedom to manipulate and improve the picture. But you know what? We’re still suckers for the Polaroid. How can you beat a well-weathered Polaroid photo with gravel actually embedded into the white borders? That’s beauty you can’t find anywhere else.

So at FOUND we want to celebrate the last days of Polaroid. Over the years we’ve received thousands of spellbinding Polaroids from around the world. In our new book, from which these and dozens of other shots have been unearthed, we showcase our absolute favorites. We think they’re some of our best finds ever.

Leave a caption after any of the Polaroids you see here. The writers of the best three (as deemed by FOUND creators Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner) win a copy of FOUND Polaroids. Not too shabby.

Click to enlarge

#1. #2.

#3. #4.

#5. #6.

#7. #8.

#9. #10.

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