My name is Christopher Bonanos, and I wrote INSTANT: THE STORY OF POLAROID.

In my daily life, I’m an editor at New York magazine, where I work on culture coverage (theater, art, classical music, architecture) and also some other subjects, like urbanism and real estate. I’ve been there since 1993, which is so long ago that when I started I did not have a computer on my desk. I write for the magazine, too, on subjects as various as One World Trade Center, the stuff on the bottom of New York Harbor, and bad bagels. Also, a tiny story I published in New York in 2008 was the germ of this book.

I have written for other outlets now and then, including The New York Times and Slate. I also spent a year aboard Dadwagon, a dad-blogging site that continues to run, very well, in the hands of my co-founders.

My first Polaroid camera was a Model 900, purchased in a secondhand-book store and antiques shop in Cranbury, New Jersey, around 1982. (It cost me $3, negotiated down from $5.) Even then, it was a weird old half-obsolete thing, requiring Polaroid roll film, which by then was growing difficult to find. I used it until the film went out of production in 1992. Since then, I have owned many (too many) Polaroid cameras, some as objects and some as working tools. These days, I shoot mostly Fuji packfilm in a Model 180, and Impossible Project film in an SLR 680.

Today, I live in New York City with an amazing, excellent wife. We have a sweet, brilliant little boy who appears in hundreds of Polaroid photos.

 

9 Responses to About Me

  1. Christopher,

    I have been waiting for your book. Thank you for your work.

    I have been involved in a pleasurable and fruitful relationship with Polaroid film for many years (laleike.tumblr.com). Continues today with 350 camera and Fuji’s instant film.

    Best regards,

    Dave LaLeike

  2. Harry Falber says:

    I’m really waiting for my copy to arrive! Working at Polaroid for Dr. Land, Peter Wensberg, Ted Voss and with incredible creative talent at Doyle Dane Bernbach with the likes of Phyllis Robinson,Bob Gage, Jack Dillon, Helmut Krone, Paul Margulies, and Stu Hyatt to name just a few, in the 70s and early 80s, was truly one of my greatest experiences. Being a part of Polaroid helped shaped not just my view of business, but my view of the world around me through a unique lens, where I could see and share on the spot with people I cared for. Thanks for keeping the spirit alive, Chris PS: I even remember Cathie Black’s first sales call to us to have Polaroid run in New York

    • admin says:

      Fantastic–I wish I’d found you when I was doing my research! What exactly did you do in Peter and Ted’s marketing group?

      • Harry Falber says:

        Wow! I just saw this as I was doing some research on my new start-up! I was an ad manager – Peter was really my “Rabbi” there. I worked on the SX-70 camera campaigns, SX-Film, Corporate Quality advertising, I was part of the launch team for the sonar technology while it was still a gigantic breadboard the size of a filing cabinet attached by long wires to a camera called “project 2806″. Later I worked on OneStep and when those sales started moving south, I created the camera called “The Button” focused on the teenaged market and had to prove to the Polaroid world that teens would and could buy a Polaroid camera with their own money in the early ’80s. I also worked on Polaroid Sunglasses where I tied fashion to function. I did some other stuff every so often in med tech and created the outreach program using Polaroid OneStep and film to teach English as a second language. My swan song was coming up with the idea – and then being ordered to find the brace of dogs given to Dr. Land at Symphony Hall on his retirement at the Shareholder meeting (and keeping it a secret).

        So, here we are, decades later, and not only is my “limited edition” gold plated SX-70 Sonar OneStep once again operational, but my newest business (really a reinvention of my consulting business) is a partnership with a person I worked with for a short period of time in 1976 and was actually replacing at Polaroid – Joe Dell’ Aquila. We’re partners and friends.

        Chris, there is nothing, truly nothing like Polaroid out in the world. There is nothing to allow people to see and share memories on the spot with people they love and care about. There’s no film technology that allows true visual creativity to blossom. it’s in your hands to get young people charged up all around the globe over Polaroid (how’s that for Jewish guilt – and everyone who’s a New Yorker is partially Jewish by definition – just to take advantage of a religious alt side of street parking space).

        What I don’t understand, is why, especially with a new CEO at the helm of the retail division, that a white OneStep renamed the Polaroid iStep has not shown up at Apple headquarters for exclusive sales. Or why a CrewStep has not shown up at Mickey Drexler’s offices for sale at J Crew stores. Both of those customer bases are Polaroid. If I were still around I would have gotten some people to rustle up a couple of prototypes and done it without telling anyone :-) .

        PS Any time you want to talk and maybe get out of The City, I live in Weston, CT backing up on a 1700 acre nature preserve with a home office. I can pick you up at the Westport station (and when you are ready to leave the Big Apple because your son doesn’t know what cut grass smells like, Weston has great public schools ( my wife is principal of the 3-5 intermediate school and even Keith Richard’s daughters went all the way through K-12)

  3. I may be slightly biased but this is an inspirational and compelling tale. If you have coworkers who enjoy reading tell them to get the book. More importantly, tell your boss/employer to read the book.

    Not to get too political, but I would say it behooves any presidential candidate to call on Land’s ethos (maybe quote a speech or two that Land delivered to his employees) to light a fire under the ass of this country or any other of the planet.

    A bit idealistic? Probably. But the book gave me goosebumps.

    We need goosebumps, baby.

    Regarding photos in the book: I’ll wonder, was it only Dr. Land that was allowed to lean on McCune’s Porsche?

    How did you come by the Lange-Adams photos?

    One more, did you attend the Sotheby’s auction of the Polaroid collection from two years ago?

    • admin says:

      Ah, so kind of you to say. If you are so inclined, Amazon reviews are wide open.

      Land and Porsche: I suspect Land was the only one confident enough to just do it.

      Lange/Adams: I found one photo in Adams’s book on Polaroid Land photography, and asked the archivist to look for it. She couldn’t find it, but she did discover an album of prints from that day with Lange, and I loved them–would’ve run more if the budget and page count had allowed it.

      Sotheby’s: I went to the viewing hours and soaked up some time with the collection, and I watched the auction progress online, but I wasn’t in the room when the hammer went down.

  4. George says:

    The founder of impossible film was so inspired by the artist Stefanie Schneider that when he found the last factory in Holland, he bought it. (with a little help from his friends) There has been no other with a longer span of dedicated Polaroid art. Check it out at http://www.instantdreams.net or see the movie “The girl behind the white picket fence” at http://www.heatherdreams.com

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