Capture the Moment: 5 Reasons to Choose an Instant Camera for Hobby Photography

It’s been almost ten years since I’ve written about photography on this blog and that’s pretty wild considering how big of a hobby it is for me! Let’s go ahead and revisit that.

One month ago, I got my hands on the first Polaroid instant camera I’ve ever tested and I was so moved by the results I’ve been getting from it that I decided to craft my new 2024 Project (New Year’s Resolution) around Polaroid instant photography.

Check it out here: The Polaroid Display

Why I Love Polaroid Instant Photography

While reading this travel blog, you can easily see that it is full of pictures and videos from every place I’ve ever written about. If that’s not enough proof that I like to snap away with cameras, a quick glance into my phone’s camera roll will reveal a gallery containing more than 200,000 photos. That’s only counting iPhone pictures, not the hundreds of thousands I’ve taken with my professional full-frame camera.

I don’t generally consider myself a professional photographer because I’ve never directly made money from my photos in a traditional sense. I don’t have a photography studio, client photoshoots, or photos in art galleries.

I suppose I could make a case for travel photography if I took into consideration the profits I earn from this blog’s monetization which are, in part, the result of publishing photos I’ve captured over the years. More often than not, I view my photography as a hobby because of the satisfaction that it brings me and my motivation for shooting.

With instant photography, I’ve learned that there’s something so magical and gratifying about taking a picture and having a one-of-a-kind print to pick up, hold, and display just moments later. It’s way faster to use instant film than it is to run to a store to have a batch of photos developed. Each composition requires creativity, luck, and planning while offering a more precious result than the photos we oftentimes thoughtlessly capture with our phones.

Why I Purchased the Polaroid Now Instant Camera

A lot of people seem to express a lack of appreciation or understanding for the allure of Polaroid instant photography. In the short time I’ve been shooting with a Polaroid Now, I’ve received countless comments about how phones can take better pictures.

It’s difficult to explain this hobby to people who don’t already have an affinity for photography as a form of art. If my objective was to take the sharpest, highest resolution, true-to-life photograph possible, I definitely would not be using a retro Polaroid instant camera for the job.

My Sony Alpha 7R V is lightyears more advanced and capable. Heck, even my iPhone 15 Pro Max has an incredibly impressive set of sensors for a device as small as it is.

Polaroid instant photography is about embracing imperfections, the magic and unpredictability of instant film, capturing a moment in time with a tangible result, creating a one-of-a-kind keepsake that you can give away, and appreciating the instant gratification and charm of retro-style photography.

1. Embrace Imperfections

I woke up on Christmas Eve feeling a deep inner sense of nostalgia. It’s a tradition in my family that we spend this holiday at my grandmother and grandfather’s house. As I’ve grown older, my appreciation for these moments has only expanded.

I thought to myself: how fun would it be to bring an instant camera to the holiday this year that everyone could pass around and take photos with. By the end of the night, there’d already be enough photos developed that we could assemble a photo album with photos from the holiday.

I figured everyone there would already have their fancy iPhones and cameras to capture modern pictures with. This wasn’t supposed to be a replacement for any of that, just something extra for everyone to enjoy.

Instant photos look vintage. They also have their flaws and that’s okay. Regardless of how the pictures developed, it was purely about the fun of trying to capture those memories in-the-moment.

2. The Unpredictability of Instant Film

Lacking impulse control, I decided to buy my Polaroid Now camera the morning of Christmas Eve. It was important to me to have it for the celebration that afternoon.

Without proper time to prepare, learn, or experiment… it was during the holiday that I discovered the many quirks of Polaroid film. While I could see why some people might be put off by the inconsistencies, imperfections, and associated cost with such an unpredictable film, I found it was something I really liked about Polaroid.

Notice the Spiderweb Emulsion Defect

Instax, the other major competitor in this space, has a more stable film that has truer colors, greater saturation, faster development times, and more predictable results. At half the price of Polaroid film, it might sound like a no-brainer. The issue for me is that Instax film doesn’t give me that same feeling that Polaroid photos do.

I actually enjoy the challenge of trying to get Polaroid film to develop the way I want it to. The pictures have a more vintage-style look to them. They also have more magical colors, in my opinion. I think a lot of this boils down to personal taste.

3. Near-Instant Gratification

Instant cameras are special in their unique ability to provide an instantly printed photo after taking a picture. In the 1970s, this was a groundbreaking development for science and photography. Polaroid pioneered this industry.

Here we are more than 50 years later in a world with technology like the new Apple Vision Pro virtual reality headset that can do spatial computing and I still find myself mind-blown over the fact that I can take a picture with my camera and have it print out a few seconds later… Sometimes, it’s the little things.

To be frank, I don’t find instant film to be a minor invention whatsoever. If you didn’t already know, we actually almost entirely lost the science of instant film and it is only thanks to the Impossible Project’s hard work and dedication that they were able to keep the science alive. Thankfully, they bought out Polaroid’s intellectual property and machinery to keep the brand alive! Even today, there’s only one factory remaining on Earth where Polaroid film is manufactured.

Sure, there’s a 15-minute buffer time with Polaroid during which time the film must sit in a dark, average-temperature space to get the best results. But it’s still way quicker than running to a store for prints!

4. One-of-a-Kind Keepsakes

A special aspect of Polaroid instant photography is that each photo exists as a single print out unless you happen to take more than one shot.

Pressing the shutter once = one Polaroid print.

There’s no negative or digital storage for reprints. With analog photography, your photo is created the moment light hits the film in the form of an exposure. From that point, chemicals kick in to develop your one-of-a-kind photo! Imperfections are unpredictable and won’t reveal themselves until your photo is fully developed about 10 to 15 minutes later.

Something I love about Polaroids is how you can take a photo and immediately give it to someone as a gift.

5. The Charm of Analog Photography

If you enjoy the iconic look of Polaroid photos, I think it’s probably worth it to dabble in analog photography.

My interest began when I stumbled across a Polaroid SX-70 land camera boxed up at a garage sale. I asked if I could have it for $5 and bought it! It was at that moment that my interest in Polaroid was sparked. Even today, I’ve never tested that camera because I’ve been to afraid I’d damage it.

To avoid the hassle of possibly damaging my SX-70, I decided to pick up the Polaroid Now to use instead. After I got my hands on the camera, I completely fell in love with instant photography.

It’s definitely addicting. (You’ve been warned!)

My 2024 Project: The Polaroid Display

Sharing One Daily Polaroid Photo Every Day

On Christmas Eve, while using my Polaroid Now camera, I had an idea. I wanted to lean into instant photography as part of my New Year’s Resolution for 2024.

With a new medium at my fingertips, I realized I had a lot to learn and that there would be no greater way to do that quickly and efficiently than by giving myself a reason to pick it up and use it every single day.

How often do we buy something thinking we want to use it only to put it down and watch it collect dust for years. Anytime I buy camera gear, I promise myself I won’t let that happen.

So that was how I came up with my new 2024 Project. Here’s an impromptu YouTube video I made after I came up with the idea!

I will take one Polaroid instant photo every single day in 2024 and share it on my new Instagram account: Polaroid Display. I welcome you to follow my Polaroid Display Instagram account if you’d like to see the project as it develops this year!

If you’d like, why not buy an instant camera so you can participate too! I’m following a handful of other people doing the same type of photo project this year!

(Not January 1st? No problem! It doesn’t matter what day you start, the most important part is taking the action TO start! If you ask me, I say you’ll be happy you did!) 📸


  1. I remember growing up waiting for those “instant” photos to be developed so we could peel the covering off the picture and see what we got. It was pretty expensive then but I think it is more reasonable now. They do have their own charm, that’s for sure.

    1. Ooh that sounds like peel-apart packfilm! I’ve actually never used that particular kind, but I’ve seen it show up in YouTube videos and I’ve been blown away by the results. Unfortunately, Polaroid has formally announced they have no intentions of bringing back packfilm. Regarding the price, instant film doesn’t cost quite as much in comparison but I would say it can still be very pricey.

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