There's a big frame in Polaroid's Photokina booth -- a giant, blown up version of the iconic white border that graced the company's instant photos for so many decades, beckoning passersby to stand behind it and pose, like muscle man cutouts at a traveling carnival. Directly to its right, attendees stand around a row of product from the company aimed at recapturing some of the nostalgia inherent in the Polaroid name. It's nothing compared to the gathering at a booth 20-or-so feet across the room, where international guests stand fascinated by the Instant Lab, an accordion-style gizmo that transforms iPhone images into instant photos, utilizing film produced at the last remaining Polaroid factory, since purchased by a company fittingly named "Impossible."
The early 21st century is a strange time to be the head of a company like Polaroid, standing at a bit of a crossroads between new and old technologies, attempting to harness the cache (and nostalgia) that comes with 75 years of history, while keeping up with the latest trends in digital imaging and slates. We sat down with the company's CEO Scott Hardy to discuss precisely what it means to be Polaroid in 2012, where the company goes from here and how much looking back is necessary to keep it moving ahead.