Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Life Through a Polaroid SX-70 Camera in 1972 by Co Rentmeester

In 1947, Polaroid introduced its first consumer camera. The Land Camera Model 95 was the first camera to use instant film to quickly produce photographs without developing them in a laboratory. The popular Model 95 and subsequent Land Cameras required complex procedures to take and produce good photographs. Photographic paper had to be manually removed from cameras, peeled open after 60 seconds, needed several minutes to dry, and often left developing chemicals on hands. The instructions for the Model 20 Swinger, introduced in 1965, warned that, if not followed, "you’re headed for plenty of picture taking trouble".

Pictures from the SX-70, by contrast, ejected automatically and developed quickly without chemical residue. Polaroid founder Edwin Land announced the SX-70 at a company annual meeting in April 1972. On stage, he took out a folded SX-70 from his suit coat pocket and in ten seconds took five pictures, both actions impossible with previous Land Cameras. The company first sold the SX-70 in Miami, Florida in late 1972, and began selling it nationally in fall 1973.

Here, a full 40 years after the SX-70 was introduced, LIFE pays tribute to Land’s vision and his determination to, as he once put it, “provide an opportunity for creativity that other photography doesn’t allow.”

Also in the gallery are pictures made with the SX-70 by LIFE photographer Co Rentmeester, who experimented with the camera while shooting the cover story on Land for the October 27, 1972, issue of the magazine.

Edwin H. Land using one of his own creations, a Polaroid Land Camera.

A study in motion featuring two dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, made with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

Portrait of a fashion model, made with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

A nude photographed with a Polaroid SX-70 camera (with a 15-second time exposure), 1972.

Wood and flower, photographed with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

A farm in Pennsylvania photographed with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

Dancers photographed from above with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

Children at a school in Lancaster County, Penn., photographed with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

Dancers photographed from above with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

Portrait of a child, made with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, 1972.

(Photos by Co RentmeesterTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

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