The myth of Waving a Polaroid (busted)
I was taking a photo of my cousin. I passed it to her.
Interestingly, she kept shaking her photo as it started to develop.
I asked why, but she had no idea why she was doing so. Then I
started to research on why people tend to wave their Polaroid picture.
Until I found this little piece of history (that still affects consumer
behaviour after over 60 years)in a book written by Christopher Bonanos.
“Starting from early 1951, every box of film contained a small test tube
capped with a plastic stopper.Once you’ve made your photo, you’d pulled out the little
squeegee, cover the surface of the photo with the liquid and then let it dry…
When you coated a Polaroid print, it stayed wet for perhaps fifteen minutes.
Your natural reaction was to hold the print by its edge and flop it around until it
dried off. A lifetime later, people still wave their instant photographs as they develop.
The later form of Polaroid pictures are always dry to the touch, because the image
is permanently sealed under a sheet of clear mylar. Flopping those picture back and
forth has always been pointless. Yet everyone soes it. Having know the phenomenon
Polaroid once felt the need to put out a stuffy press release “shaking or waving can
actually damage the image.” it said, “Rapid movement during development can cause
portions of the film sperate prematurely.”
Did’t make any different. Everyone kept shaking.”
(shot with my beloved sx-70, and just in case you don’t know,
“sx” actually stands for Special Experiment created by
Dr. Edwin H. Land, father of Polaroid Camera)
“Well shaking your Polaroid not only give you something to do when develop. Rationally or not, you’re waving a magic wand.”
(Source: Bonanos, C. (2012). Instant – The Story of Polaroid. New York: Princeton Architectural Press )