Photographic holiday memories

12 comments on Photographic holiday memories
2 minutes

This Christmas memory was originally posted in 2008.

My grandparents always owned the latest Polaroid cameras, and they passed on that tradition in 1977 when they bought my brother and me Polaroid Super Shooter cameras for Christmas.


When I unwrapped the gift, I remember thinking how cool the box was. I liked the box so much that I kept my camera in it for the almost 30 years I owned it. Not long ago I learned that the box, like all Polaroid packaging of the day, was designed by Paul Giambarba, a top designer who was a pioneer of clean, strong brand identity. I remember how easy it was to spot Polaroid film on the drug store shelf because it had the same rainbow-stripes design elements as the camera’s box. Film and developing for my garage-sale Brownie cost about half what a pack of Polaroid film cost, but the colorful Polaroid boxes on the shelf always tempted me. I often decided that next time I bought film, I would save my allowance for the whole month it took to afford a pack of Polaroid.


My brother also got a guitar that Christmas morning. My new camera came with a pack of film, so I loaded it and shot this photo of him on his first day with his guitar. He played this guitar for 20 years – he looked strange as an adult playing a kid-sized guitar! Then on another Christmas day while I was still married, my wife gave him her old guitar. Our first son, who hadn’t been walking long, wouldn’t leave his side as he played that evening. He looked up at his uncle with wide amazement in his eyes, holding onto the side of the La-Z-Boy to keep himself steady.

May this holiday bring you the gift of excellent memories to share with your loved ones down the road.

Next: Christmastime television from Chicago.


12 responses to “Photographic holiday memories”

  1. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Your brother looked like a total rockstar :) Neat to hear about your history with photography!

    1. Jim Avatar

      The 1977 mop top is what really tips him over the edge!

      When I posted this the first time a few years ago, Paul Giambarba himself found it and left a comment! That was one of the coolest moments in my blogging career.

  2. ryoko861 Avatar

    I always liked the Swinger. That had the rainbow on it as well.
    Merry Christmas Jim!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Ah yes, the little Swinger, the first lower-priced Polaroid camera. Merry Christmas to you, too, Irene!

  3. Mark O'Brien Avatar

    One wonderful aspect of the Polaroid was that instead of parents taking two Christmases to finish a roll of film on the 12 exposure Brownie, they could have prints instantly!

    Polaroids, especially the Time-Zero film and the SX-70 rate up there with significant technological and social highlights of the 20th century. The SX-70 was the last SLR to be made in the US, and its design still is thought to be amazing.

    My first Polaroid camera was also a Christmas gift, and it was a white-bodied model that took square photos, and I probably got it in 1973 or so. Maybe it was a Swinger II. I still have all the shots that I took with it.

    I enjoy reading your blog!

    1. Jim Avatar

      You’re quite right — do you remember how relatively expensive film and developing were back in the day? And how common it was not to remember at all what you shot on the first half of a roll of film until it came back from the processor?

      I scored an original SX-70 in an antique shop for only $40 this year, so pretty soon now I’ll buy some Impossible Project film and give it a whirl.

      I’m glad you’re reading!

  4. Mike P. Avatar
    Mike P.

    Hey Jim,
    Thank you for the walk down memory lane with Polaroid. I also loved the boxes and it is cool to hear about the advertising guru behind them. My Grandfather was a photographer all his life and a scientist. He always got out his Argus C33 and later Nikon with a light meter to take our picture at Christmas and Birthdays. He always shot slides in those days so it had to be just right :) I remember being shocked when one year he pulled out a Polaroid and shot our pictures… then of course he took out his Nikon and shot them again, LOL Thanks for the flashback!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Mike, Argus made an entire line of decent 35 mm cameras that were in many grandfathers’ hands through the middle of the 20th century. I have several of them in my collection, but no C33 yet! Sounds like your grandfather wasn’t quite sure whether Polaroid was “real” photography or not!

  5. hmunro Avatar

    How wonderful that you have so many warm memories stemming from that one Christmas morning. I hope this year’s Christmas is just as magical for you.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thank you Heather, and the same wish to you!

  6. davidvanilla Avatar

    Thank you for sharing some of your memories. May you make many more happy ones as you continue on down the road of life. Merry Christmas, Jim.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thank you David, and Merry Christmas to you too!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.