Tips & Tricks

How Does Instant Film Work

By Abby Schreiber

When it comes to Polaroid cameras, there are tons of steps to get from Point "A" to Point "There's-A-Photo-In-Your-Hand." But do you know how instant film actually works? And no - you don't have to shake it!

The entire process is a chemical reaction, and each piece of film contains those chemicals before you even say, "Cheese!" The border of the polaroid isn't just for show - it contains pouches of chemicals.

When you take a photo, the shutter briefly opens and allows light to seep in, exposing the negative (which contains its own chemical layers). Each chemical absorbs a different primary color of light: red, blue, or green.

Next, that negative is squeezed between two rollers as it's ejected from the camera.

That "squeeze" bursts the packs of chemical reagent - the chemical that sets off the reaction - contained in the border of the negative. This turns those layers of colors into the image you see. And voila!

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