Photographic holiday memories

A rerun, from 2008 and 2012, as this Christmas nears. Now with new photos.


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!


20 Christmas Days later, when my older son was not yet a full year old, my wife gave my brother her old guitar. Our boy, drawn to the music, wouldn’t leave his uncle’s side as he played that evening. Steadying himself on his uncle’s knee, he looked up with wide amazement in his eyes.


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

When I first posted this, in 2008, Paul Giambarba himself left a comment! It was a thrill. I followed his blog for years. He discontinued it a few years ago, and thanked me in a final post for saying kind things about his work. None of this would have been possible without the Internet!


9 responses to “Photographic holiday memories”

  1. davisr66 Avatar

    I throughly enjoyed this post. It contained several elements that you linked together well; Christmas, family, cameras, and design. Thank you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      :-) Thank you! This is an evergreen post; I run it every few years, because I like it so much.

  2. davisr66 Avatar

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  3. Richard Avatar

    Nice one Jim, brought back back great memories of Polaroid Xmas’s of 40 years ago taking Xmas snaps with my treasured original SX-70 which I still have as well as as an SX-7- Sonar. In those days I managed a photo store and there was always free SX-70 demo film to use and I took dozens of family Polaroid Snaps. I must find them and reminisce, now I’m retired I can longer afford Polaroid Film nor have access to freebies.
    Merry Xmas and a have a great New Year Jim to you and your family from downunder New Zealand. Regards Richard

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I still have an SX-70 as well. And a Colorpack II. But that’s it in terms of Polaroids. I enjoy shooting them, but the films are so expensive now, or are discontinued.

  4. yashicachris Avatar

    Great story Jim!
    Have a very Merry Christmas!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks so much Chris!

  5. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Great story Jim thanks for sharing. I just bought my granddaughter her first guitar for Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful time with your family this festive season,A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Christopher! I hope your granddaughter fully enjoys her new guitar.

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