From the onset, the company provided an outlet for dilettantes, avant-garde experimenters, nightlife chroniclers, and collagists, as well as traditional photographers who appreciated the high caliber of the film itself.
The long journey began with Adams, one of the world’s most famed landscape photographers, who was a friend of Polaroid scientist and co-founder Dr. Edwin Land. Adams would sign on as a consultant with Polaroid in 1949. “He was working with cameras, films, all of the inventions, testing what came out of the laboratories,” explains Barbara Hitchcock, who worked in the company’s marketing division during the 1970s and ’80s, and who co-curated “The Polaroid Project.” Adams performed field tests and took endless notes that were used to improve the newest Polaroid products, enlisting friends and peers along the way. “That was the goal,” Hitchcock says, “to show that this new film had great quality, and wasn’t just a gadget-y thing.”
Initial Polaroid film produced only sepia-toned prints, followed by black-and-white in 1950, and color images in 1963. Some models produced reusable negatives, allowing for multiples or editions, while others created unique one-off prints. For contemporary artists, it was often the latter option that proved the most interesting.