Today, if a parent snaps a picture and a toddler asks to see it right away, no one bats an eye. When Edwin Land’s child made the request seven decades ago, she inspired the discovery of instant imagery.
Born over a hundred years ago on May 7th (1909-1991), Land pioneered what became known as Polaroids in the 1940s. He invented immediate picture technology on vacation in Santa Fe after his three-year-old daughter asked why she couldn’t see the picture he had just taken of her. Well, why not? He took a walk and, within an hour, visualized an idea to produce a finished print in the field: placing darkroom chemistry between two sheets of film.
Ansel Adams, always enthusiastic about photographic technique and developments, embraced Land’s innovations. Beginning in 1948, Adams worked with his Land camera and offered feedback as a consultant for 35 years. Adams was a strong advocate for the film, writing, ” It is unfortunate that so many photographers have thought of the Land camera as a ‘toy,’ a casual device for ‘fun’ pictures [...] The process has revolutionized the art and craft of photography”
A writer of many books and manuals on photography, Adams first published Polaroid Land Photography in 1963 and revised an edition in 1978, dedicated to “Edwin H. Land, creator of new horizons for the mind and spirit.”
Happy birthday Edwin Land, and thank you for laying the foundation for instant imagery!
Jen Dolen, Photography & New Media intern