A Behind the Scenes Look at How Instant Film is Made

Old school instant cameras have long been a popular alternative to traditional film or digital photography. The film they use and images they produce have a quality unlike any other medium. 

My parents never had an instant camera when I was growing up. They had boring old film cameras with little flash cubes on the top, and we had to wait weeks before we got developed prints from the rolls of film that held our images hostage. I'm sure my folks valued the quality of those prints over instant photos, but at the time, I was an instant gratification kid of the 80s, and I thought instant cameras were the coolest thing ever! 

My aunt bought a Polaroid camera when I was around 10 years old. I remember waiting and watching that little square roll out of the camera, and anticipating on tip toes as if something completely magical was about to happen. She would wave that little square back and forth in front of us as if the very air around us would kiss the film and speed up the process. Then, gradually, mystically, an image would begin to appear. 

Instant film is not nearly as popular as it once was, but it still has its following. Today, both Fujifilm and Polaroid Originals produce a wide variety of instant cameras that are both fun and functional, along with a variety of films for them in both color and black and white. 

Here, a video from the Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" shows us the process by which this many-layered film is produced. It really is a marvel, carrying all the chemicals needed inside its layers, so that the image you take can be instantly developed as soon as the film rolls through the camera. Enjoy!

Jenny Edwards's picture

Jenny Edwards is a portrait photographer based in Amarillo, TX. She specializes in family and generational portraiture, as well as fashion-inspired portraits for high school seniors.

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2 of my uncles had polaroid instant cameras, one of them alongside his Canon AE-1. my mum had a 110 and my dad a Canon AE-1 Program (as recommended to him by my uncle). i grew up using a cheap Vivitar 35mm point and shoot i got on my 9th birthday. i always envied the Polaroid and that lingering feeling is what will probably cause me to buy a Fujifilm SP-3 instax printer to link with my X-T3.

Imagine a Polaroid SX 70 or similar on a drone ..
That’s instant photo delivered on site.