The Polaroid camera, invented by Edwin Land, was sold to the public was in November 1948. Instant photography revolution was not embraced by the professionals but the polaroid opened the door of photography for many amateurs.
In December 2008, the company announced that the production of the polaroid films will be stopped by 2009. Eclipsed by digital photography, Polaroid’s white-bordered prints — and the anticipation they created as their ghostly images gradually came into view — are now officially things of the past. However, from David Hockney’s famous Polaroid art compositions, to the line, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” from OutKast’s hit “Hey Ya!”, Polaroid instant film has embedded itself in popular culture.
Perhaps the most famous polaroid photo was taken on November 22nd 1963 by one Mary Moorman. She took the photograph of President Kennedy’s limousine a fraction of a second after the fatal shot. In the frame 298 of the Zapruder film (below), Moorman and her friend Jean Hill were clearly seen standing 20 feet away from the limousine, standing on grass south of Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, directly across from the grassy knoll.
What was captured in her polaroid has been a matter of contentious debate. On the grassy knoll, as many as four different figures can be observed, while these can also be easily dismissed as trees or shadows. A figure is identified as the “badge man”, a uniformed police officer. Others claim to see Gordon Arnold, a man who claimed to have filmed the assassination from that area, a man in a construction hard hat, and a hatted man behind the picket fence.
Moorman stated she heard a shot as the limousine passed her, then heard another shot or two after the president’s head first exploded. She stated that she could not determine where the shots came from, and that she saw no one in the area that appeared to have possibly been the assassin. Moorman however was not called to testify to the Warren Commission.
Moorman sold her original Polaroid photograph of the assassination for US$175,000 in an eBay live auction in January, 2008.