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Instant photo

The iconic photo with a white border and grey-black back has been around since 1948, when Polaroid launched its first instant camera, Model 95. This camera initially produced sepia photos, but then later could also take and instantly develop colour photos.

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Even though instant photos are also called polaroids after the company that invented the instant camera, other manufacturers such as Fuji and Kodak also ventured into instant cameras.


The popularity of instant photography has waned since the emergence of digital photography, but it is now experiencing a renaissance – despite the relatively expensive photographic paper. You can also opt for an instant look with digital printed photos, so you get a digital instant photo with a white border and back.

Instant negatives

It’s possible that you might find negatives together with your instant photos. This is because for some instant cameras, such as the Polaroid Type 47, you had to peel off the negative to create the positive (the photograph) after you’d taken the picture.

Read more about photo negatives here.


The most common instant photo formats are:

  • 2 x 9.5 cm
  • 9 x 7.9 cm
  • 7 x 9.1 cm
  • 3 x 9.1 cm
  • 4 x 8.6 cm
  • 4 x 3.6 cm


Instant photos can be severely damaged if they are stored at temperatures below freezing.

Did you know …

… you can also get very large instant photos measuring up to 40 x 50 cm. Large formats like this are often used by artists, such as the American Elsa Dorfman, who made portraits with an instant camera that weighed 90 kg.

Elsa Dorfman
Elsa Dorfman *

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