The resurgence of the instant photo

Photo by Brittney MacDonald
Photo by Brittney MacDonald

Quick snap, but is it worth the cash?

By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor


I’m not sure if many of you have noticed, but trends seem to be cyclical. Right now we’re at an awkward time when fads from the ’90s have all the sudden started popping up in fashion and popular culture—Power Rangers, clear backpacks, blue lipstick. It’s all very 1991. It seems that as we progress, we also tend to fall back on things that worked for us in the past, and this is especially true of the recent boom in mobile printing.

It seems that everywhere you look, photo or camera companies are attempting to cash in on the mobile market by producing a portable printer that will work with your phone to make a physical copy of your favourite photos. They’re basically trying to create a resurgence of the Polaroid fad of the ’70–’90s. It is a good move on their part; I mean, what else are companies like Polaroid and Kodak going to do to stay relevant outside of the professional photography circuit. In order to capitalize on revenue, they need a product that they can offer to the masses—but almost everyone just takes photos on their phone. A digital camera is a thing of the past, unless you vlog or are planning a big trip. It is certainly not a day to day accessory.

The question then becomes, are these portable printers something we need? Not need as in one needs shoes or one needs food—but something that is actually worth the effort and money to go out and buy. As someone who does own a Polaroid Zip, which is a small mobile printer that syncs to your phone, I am conflicted. On one hand, I do enjoy the printer, but on the other hand, I won it on Instagram, so I didn’t have to shell out the $130–179 it costs, and I have yet to use up the paper it came with, so I haven’t had to pay $50 for a pack of refills. Had the situation been different, I probably wouldn’t have bought this, because I have a hard time justifying paying so much for something so frivolous—but now that I do have one, and I’ve used it, I can definitely see the appeal.

I enjoy being able to look at actual photos, and giving physical photos to friends and loved ones. There’s something really special and sincere about that, compared to just emailing a file or sending a link to someone. Not to mention that I have abused its power in the way of decorating everyday objects with photos of my cat, my favourite video game characters, and disgustingly-sweet vacation photos of me and my beau. The nostalgia and the fun that these camera companies are trying to capitalize on is definitely there, but whether or not you feel it’s worth the expense is a decision that should be made personally. For me, I only saw the appeal after I owned one for myself, and that might be the case for you as well. So maybe hold off until they go down in price, or hang on to that receipt—just in case!