The Story of Edwin Land, and the Rise and Fall of Polaroid

Photographer Todd Dominey recently inherited a piece of photo history from his parents: an original Polaroid SX-70. This camera sent Dominey down the rabbit hole of instant photography history, as he discovered the story behind this world-shaking camera, and the man who invented it, Edwin Land.

In the documentary-style video above, Dominey shares a bit of the passion he’s discovered with the rest of us. It’s a story of “the rise and fall of Polaroid, the SX-70, and the surprising life and career of Edwin Land.”

“Most people know Land for creating instant photography, but he’s also the inventor of the polarizer and variable neutral density filter—tools every modern-day landscape photographer carry around in their backpack,” Dominey tells PetaPixel. “Once you dig into the history of Land’s life and work, it’s astonishing. Not simply for what he envisioned and invented, but for his ability to bring those ideas to fruition and manufacture them at scale.”

Photo by Lorenzo Spoleti

Dominey’s video manages to squeeze Land’s legacy into an informative and engrossing 22 minutes of video, complete with vintage Polaroid commercials, an overview of the infamous Kodak v Polaroid lawsuit that lasted 15 years, and plenty of footage of the man himself. Watching the video, it’s immediately apparent how his drive, and especially his marketing acumen, would go on to influence other trailblazers like Steve Jobs.

If you’re at all interested in photography’s history, and you’ve never dived into the life and work of Edwin Land, Dominey’s video is a wonderful place to start. And if you want to dive much MUCH deeper once you’re done, Dominey recommends picking up the book A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War, which was written by one of Polaroid’s lawyers from the iconic Kodak lawsuit, Ronald K. Fierstein.

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