6 Different Ways You Can Get Polaroid and Film-Style Photos

You may think the days of shaking a Polaroid picture are gone, but there are still ways you can achieve that same film style with your photos.

Analog photography isn’t quite dead; you can revive it with digital technology, or even with modern versions of film photography. Ignite feelings of nostalgia with these modern ways to bring back the film photography style.

1. Fujifilm Instax

When Polaroid stopped manufacturing cameras and instant film in 2008, the photography world went into despair. Luckily, Fujifilm Instax came to the rescue for our take-print-shake photo needs. Instax is known for its thinner rectangular prints, but there is also a square version that gives you that iconic square print Polaroid is known for.

Instax cameras are relatively affordable, cute in design, and easy to use. Unlike traditional Polaroid film, Instax offers different designs and types of Instax film: black and white, color, polka-dotted borders, neon frames, or white borders for the traditionalists. Instax film is also affordable and accessible; you can pick up a pack at Walmart, Best Buy, or Hobbycraft, to name a few.

2. Polaroid Now+ and Polaroid Lab

Polaroid changed the idea of instant photography. At the height of its popularity in the 70s, its instant film cameras became an iconic sight of the era. Then, after it stopped manufacturing instant film cameras, Polaroid changed the photography game once more by introducing Zink printers.

Polaroid PoGo—released in 2008—is a Zink printer you can connect to your digital camera to print photos as sturdy stickers. Zink technology uses no ink, which means you only have to buy the Zink photo paper.

The PoGo has been upgraded, and now you can get better quality sticker prints for the Polaroid Hi-Print. Zink printers are great alternatives to Polaroid film that cater to the growing digital market.

But people still want the iconic Polaroid camera that produces the iconic square white-framed photos. You can get that once more, with the Polaroid Now+. It comes with clip-on lenses, an app, and the same iconic body shape. Read all about why the Polaroid Now+ could renew your love for instant cameras.

Or there’s the Polaroid Lab, which allows you the digital experience of taking photos on your phone while having the traditional experience of printing your Polaroid photos in a “photo lab” at home.

3. PoooliPrinter

Printing with thermal paper isn’t a new concept—it’s how receipts are printed—but it isn’t a common concept for printing photos. The PoooliPrinter puts an artistic spin on the thermal printer. You can print images, text, and notes in a convenient way for your scrapbook or other purposes.

Colored thermal paper is available, as is translucent paper, or you can turn your prints into stickers, all of which are great for scrapbooks and labels. While different printing papers are available, because they’re all thermal, you can only ever print with black.

While the PoooliPrinter is vastly different from film photography, it is a great way to experiment with photography and printing in a non-traditional way, and you can still get the white borders like with Polaroid film. Thermal paper is affordable, and you can change out the paper whenever you want, meaning you don’t have to use an entire style’s roll from beginning to end.

4. Gudak Cam

For anyone with memories of buying a $2 disposable camera and excitedly waiting a few days to pick up your printed film from the store, you can have that same experience again, but digitally. Gudak Cam is an app that replicates the experience of film photography almost perfectly. Except, it’s entirely digital.

Gudak transforms your iPhone into a disposable camera, including the tiny viewfinder you can barely see through. Per each roll of digital film, you’re entitled to 24 frames, and you cannot preview any of the photos. Spend each click wisely. You can even jazz up the interface with a themed skin, although it doesn’t affect the photos in any way.

Once you’ve completed the roll, tap a button to metaphorically send your film to be “developed”. For the full experience, you still have to wait three days for your photos to be returned and an hour to be able to start a new roll. There are no printing fees here, as your photos will download directly to your camera roll in their own Gudak folder. This is the first time you’ll see your photos.

As per the rules of disposable cameras, you may get light leaks in unavoidable places, some grain to your images taken in low light, or even the occasional finger in front of the lens. Gudak brings excitement and the unknown back to photography by forcing you to be patient and limiting how many photos you take.

Check out these other vintage iPhone film camera apps as well.

Download: Gudak Cam for iOS | Android ($0.99)

5. Lomography

Lomography is an Austrian experimental photography company. Not only does it produce fun and artistic film-style cameras, but it also produces a myriad of film types for you to experiment with.

Lomography cameras may look like toys, but they’re real, working film cameras. Many of their cameras don’t offer customization—you often can’t change the lenses, might not have options to add a flash, or are stuck with one size of film. But this is part of the effect.

Some of the Lomography cameras include the Fisheye 35mm, medium format Diana, Diana Mini 35mm, and even a panoramic camera. Combining your funky camera with different film types adds to the creative results of Lomography. You can use any standard 35mm film or 120mm medium format film. Lomography sells its own film types, such as black and white, negative, and infrared.

While Lomography is anything but traditional, it still requires traditional techniques to get your photos. You’ll need to send your film to a photo printing studio, or if you’re lucky enough to have access to a darkroom, you could develop the film yourself. The excitement of using these cameras really comes from the artistic and kitsch style it promotes.

6. Adobe Photoshop

If you’re feeling creative, Adobe Photoshop might be your best friend when it comes to bringing analog photography into the modern age. In Photoshop, you can create anything your dreams are made of. There are various techniques to take your images from digital to traditional film style.

Like experimenting with cameras, film types, and lenses, you can experiment similarly in Photoshop. Learn how to make your photos look vintage in Photoshop. You can create common film effects like photos being overexposed or underexposed, which can be by choice or accident—check out our guide for how to create an overexposed photo in Photoshop.

Bring Film Photography Back to the Modern World

Whether you’re going to get an Instax film camera, a Polaroid Lab to print your photos, experiment with thermal printing, or remain digital with an analog twist, there are many ways for you to inject the past into your present photography.

None of these options have to be expensive or time-consuming. Buy what you can afford, buy secondhand, or use free or cheap apps to achieve the Polaroid and film styles with your pictures.

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