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    These Beautiful Destroyed Polaroids Prove Film's Not Dead

    Written by

    Derek Mead


    People like to claim film’s dead, but is it? Well, no, people are still shooting 35mm, Lomography is live and well, and medium- and large-format photographers will likely be using film slides forever. But Kodachrome is dead, as is Kodak itself. Polaroid, whose business model has most heavily been impacted by phone cameras, has gone bankrupt, named Lady Gaga its creative director, and is apparently contemplating releasing a tablet, all largely because no one wants to spend money on really expensive film.

    Ruined Polaroid #45. Via William Miller.

    Meanwhile, new digital cameras like the Fuji X-Pro1 are reviving the beloved form factor of old SLRs like the Minolta SR-T 101, whose portability and all-important “look” left it as one of the last holdouts of vintage cameras being used regularly. (I have an SR-T, and love it, but still end up shooting DSLRs more anyway because film is a pain for everyday use. If I had extra money, I’d switch to an X-Pro too.)

    Ruined Polaroid #27. Via William Miller.

    The reason hipster photographer lament the death of film — which, just like vinyl, they never buy and complain about only when it’s gone — is that it has a better look and “feel.” I’d tend to agree, in some instances; film won’t die completely because it offers a look and experience that digital still can’t replicate, even if DSLRs can blow film out of the water technically. There’s something to be said for knowing that you’ve got only 24 or 36 shots on a 35mm roll, and that you need to make each one count. It’s also valuable to learn how to shoot a camera manually.

    Ruined Polaroid #30. Via William Miller.

    Polaroid has always been the king of feel. Unique looks aside, having the processing chemicals right there in the package, providing an instant photo to hold and share, beats out the lengthy workflow of digital photographers any day, even if it is expensive. And that’s why William Miller’s series “Ruined Polaroids” is so cool. Valery Levacher pointed out the series with a poignancy that’s rare for Twitter, tagging it with “#entropy.”

    Ruined Polaroid #51. Via William Miller.

    Never mind that Miller’s series could be from Clement Valla’s series of deranged Google Earth aberrations. Miller’s processing — in the true physical sense, not the bullshit digital airbrushing trickery that’s come to personify Photoshop — is a great representation of why we enjoy film. Sure, it’s cool that the slides look like psychedelic fractal moonscapes, but it’s the fact that Miller deconstructed them by hand is perfectly representative of the tactility of film that digital will never replace.

    Ruined Polaroid #22. Via William Miller.
    The lead photo is cropped from Ruined Polaroid #18. For more great slides, visit Miller’s site.

    Follow Derek Mead on Twitter: @drderekmead.