Shake it like a Polaroid picture?

You’ve probably seen it: Someone on TV or in a movie takes a picture with a Polaroid™ brand instant camera. The undeveloped picture comes out, and the fictional photographer grabs it and starts waving it around like she’s fighting a bull, trying to make it develop faster. This practice has even been referenced in OutKast’s song “Hey Ya”, with the line “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.”

Now, I’ve owned Polaroid cameras and taken my share of instant photos. I’ve never shaken the pictures and they’ve all developed fine. In fact, I think I’ve seen the directions “do not shake” on film.

Where did this practice start? Is there really any benefit to shaking the pictures as they develop?

Sure there is. And the elevator will arrive faster if you press the call button several times.

The reason people started doing that is to dry the print faster. It was more of a fanning motion than shaking. Somewhere along the line people began thinking this was to speed the development process.

There might have been some merit to it with the old-timey Polaroids. When those were exposed, the photograph was not “sealed” to the the paper. You had this squeegee-type thing that you ran over the photo to seal it. Otherwise, the picture could be rubbed off over time. Shaking it around would thus help the sealant dry a little faster.

If it’s one of the non-professional films (like Spectra or 600), it’s sealed in plastic and shaking does nothing. If it’s one of the pro films, which require pealing off paper, but no squeegee, it’s already sealed and (and mostly dry) when you peal off the paper.

Gives you something to do while you wait, dosen’t it?

Yep, as above, it’s not meant to be a ‘shaking’ action so much as the kind of action intended to help something dry faster upon contact with air. This was important with some early types of Polaroid films.

Hmm. So it may have had a useful purpose with the older film, but it’s not necessary with the newer sealed film. (I’ve never seen professional Polaroid film, but I have seen people flapping the non-professional film around.)

Thanks. :slight_smile: