Long before Polaroid pictures invoked sun-bleached nostalgia, dreamlike memories and a lust for a bygone analog age, they were considered a flash of impossibly futuristic technology.
When the company’s SX-70 OneStep instant camera was released in 1972, the US was still drafting conscripts for the Vietnam War, the Sony Walkman was seven years away and most people had to wait days – or even weeks – to see the pictures they’d snapped.
For acclaimed director and photographer Wim Wenders, who arrived in the USA from his native Germany that year, the SX-70 was the epitome of progress. The device was a technological marvel.
He went on to take 12,000 Polaroid photos in a frenzy of creativity in the early 1970s. The format was “at the dawn of the digital age, a promise of things to come,” said Wenders in an email interview.
“For years, everybody would stand behind you and look at the little print, not only in amazement, but also with longing – ‘Gimme that thing!’” said Wenders, who directed the epic road movie “Paris, Texas” and the Oscar-nominated documentary “Buena Vista Social Club.”
“Kids especially went crazy. Today, we take it for granted that we can see everything immediately on … our devices, but then, it was nothing less than a cultural revolution. We all felt we were looking at the future. And we were.”