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September 29th, 2012

Instant, a History of the Polaroid Includes Jamie Livingston

Readers of this blog know how passionate we are about Polaroids, specifically the work of Jamie Livingston and his Photo of the Day project.

Christopher Bonanos, an editor at New York Magazine, has written a history of Polaroid called Instant. Thankfully, Betsy Reid of Legacy Portrait Films texted me early to say that Scott Simon on Weekend Edition interviewed Bonanos about his new book

I haven't heard the interview yet but I did want to talk about the book.

 According to Bonanos, Polaroid was the Apple of its day. "It was the coolest technology company on earth, the one with irresistible products, the one whose stock kept climbing way past the point of logic," he writes.

Interestingly, Steve Jobs is said to have modeled the corporate style of Apple on the creative atmosphere of Polaroid.

According to the author, Instant is a business book about what happens when a company loses its innovative spark. The book also showcases the amazing things photographers—from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol to Chuck Close and even Jamie Livingston—did with Polaroid film.

It is also a technology and pop-culture history. He writes: " I like to think that it also tells a larger story, about the rise and fall of American invention and manufacturing."

We're thrilled that Bonanos included a photograph by Jamie Livingston in Instant. Livingston's Photo of the Day project consisted of one Polaroid a day from 1978 until the day of his death from cancer on October 25, 1997.

Since Jamie's death, Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid re-photographed all  six thousand photographs and created a dedicated website for this work, which went viral in 2008 and is enormously popular all around the world, especially in China where it gets millions of visitors every year.

The Polaroid by Jamie Livingston above is from September 29, 1987.

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