Many years ago I participated in a large art event in Seattle and as a contributing artist I attended the opening gala event. I hardly knew anyone. I'm not afraid of people and no one would consider me to be a shrinking violet, but making myself meet a lot of new people at once takes me a lot of energy and I don't feel that I'm very good at it. But that time, I was armed with my newest toy: a mini-polaroid camera that hung by a strap from my wrist. The pictures from this camera were about as long as my thumb. As I stood in lines or lingered on the edge of groups of people, I offered to take a photo of others. I gave them their instant party documentation and while it developed we visited. The instant camera was an ice-breaker and the gesture of giving out photos helped put me at ease. It was an excellent socializing prop for me.
The lesson stuck with me. An instant photo became one of my favorite gifts. They work for any occasion. In the midst of a casual dinner gathering, an immediate and even awkward photo from an instant camera can offer a modest, tangible token to remember a moment. Hardly anyone is immune to the charm and magic of holding the photo in hand as the polaroid processing works and checking it now and then to see the image emerge. What's more, is that there's no digital back up. It won't be on Facebook or Flickr. That's it. The clumsy photo of you with a paste-on moustache that fits in the palm of your hand becomes more precious. Now I have a little collection of instant cameras and keep one handy in the kitchen. I definitely break it out for our salty snack studios release parties.
Last year, I took my Fuji Instax Mini to a good friend's wedding and let it help me introduce myself to my friend's other friends. It was a no-gift wedding with many friends contributing to the event - flowers and photography and all - as their gift. I gave away many instant photos to guests but I also made sure to save a stack of the small humble snapshots for the bride and groom.
Later, I made an instax mini photo keeper out of a metal band-aid box to give my newly married friends. I kept the decoration simple and lean using spray paint, washi tape and ribbon on the outside.
I made a ribbon pull to help ease the photos out of the box.
I left the photos loose, so they could be held, shuffled and rearranged like a deck.
To soften the landing for the photos as they get tossed in and out of the box and for a festive little surprise, I glued tiny pom-poms inside on the bottom. And on the outside bottom, marked the year for the photos.
Of course, the mini polaroid gift box isn't a substitute for a proper wedding photo album, it's such a big special occasion and the quality of the instant photos can be so hit or miss, but it does make a humble compliment to it.