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Are You Supposed To Shake Polaroids? 5 Surprising Facts

Click! You’ve just taken a Polaroid, but now the waiting game begins. Let’s speed it up by shaking it. Many people do it, but should you shake your Polaroids?

Polaroids should not be shaken. The film consists of integral film, two pieces of plastic sandwiched together, and the pictures develop between the plastic sheets. The dye and chemicals will never come into contact with air, so shaking Polaroids will not speed up the development process but will increase the chances of damaging the photo.

Are You Supposed To Shake Polaroids?
Are You Supposed To Shake Polaroids?

But seeing how many people are still shaking Polaroids makes us think; how did this trend start? Read on to learn more.

Why Do You Shake Polaroids?

Besides the song “Hey Ya!” by Outkast telling us to “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” it seems like it’s just been a subconscious thing in everyone’s mind to shake the Polaroid to make it develop faster.

When Polaroids were first released, remember this was in 1937, and technology has developed significantly since then. The Polaroid, or pack film, peeled apart to be exposed to air.

Why Do You Shake Polaroids?
Why Do You Shake Polaroids?

The photo took even more time to develop, and the chemicals and dyes used in the Polaroid pictures were very different from today.

The chemicals took longer to dry, so naturally, coming into contact with air would help them dry, and shaking them around would help them dry faster. Shaking the Polaroid doesn’t help the picture develop, but it helps the already-developed picture dye to dry faster.

Even in the past, people were still unnecessarily shaking their Polaroids.

The proper way to handle your film is to leave it on a flat surface immediately after printing. But of course, it’s more fun and requires less patience to fan the Polaroid in the air.

In the 1970s, Polaroid released their third generation of instant cameras, like the Polaroid SX-70, which printed pictures onto square integral film, which meant that the film was now sealed in plastic and didn’t need to be exposed to air to dry.

And so not only was shaking your Polaroid even more pointless, but it could damage or distort the picture.

How Did Shaking Polaroids Become So Popular?

Even though instant cameras were a revolutionary part of photography, this type of photography died out when the digital camera age started in the late 1970s. This meant you could now see your photos on the screen before waiting to develop them, and in 2001 Polaroid went bankrupt.

How Did Shaking Polaroids Become So Popular?
How Did Shaking Polaroids Become So Popular?

But in 2001, Outkast released the banger “Hey Ya!” It was the first song to sell more than a million paid downloads.

Getting the catchy “shake it” part out of your head is hard. This gives massive exposure to Polaroids, especially when you see a whole group of attractive ladies enthusiastically shaking their Polaroids.

Since the song came out, Polaroid had a massive revival, and they made sure to cash in on the marketing by giving Outkast some Polaroid cameras to take on stage at Saturday Night Live and, even better, the Grammys.

But that wasn’t enough because they started handing out Polaroid cameras to many celebrities, making Polaroid’s popularity skyrocket again.

It didn’t take long before almost every second person had their hands on a Polaroid camera and was again shaking their Polaroid pictures.

But now that everyone had their instant cameras, Polaroid had to ask the public not to do what made them so famous first; not shake the Polaroids.

Why Shouldn’t You Shake Polaroids?

It would help if you didn’t shake a Polaroid because the instant film in modern instant cameras is covered in plastic, which prevents the film from being exposed to air contact even if you shake it to reduce drying time.

So all that shaking, although fun, is only helpful if you’re trying to damage your picture.

Why Shouldn't You Shake Polaroids
Why Shouldn’t You Shake Polaroids? Because it can damage your print

Yes, you read right!

Shaking the modern Polaroid film, we have today can damage your precious photo. When you shake the image, the rapid fanning movements could cause the different parts of the film to distort by separating prematurely before the picture has had time to set.

So if you start seeing unwanted blobs in your picture-perfect memories, you know why.

For more obvious reasons not to shake your Polaroids; this can cause physical damage to the film because you’re more likely to bend or crumple the picture when you move it back and forwards fast to create the fanning motion.

Essential Things You Should Know About Polaroids

Essential Things You Should Know About Polaroids
Essential Things You Should Know About Polaroids

Now that you understand why you shouldn’t shake a Polaroid, you must know some other essential things to best look after your photos.

  1. Polaroid Fade – it’s best to keep it away from direct sunlight to avoid early discoloration to keep the Polaroid picture in the best condition for as long as possible.
  2. Polaroids Expire – Polaroids should be used within 12 months of the manufacturer’s expiry date, stamped at the bottom of the film package, because a sour film affects the performance of the chemicals in the film.

Do You Shake A Polaroid FAQs

Are You Supposed to Shake Polaroids?

Are You Supposed to Shake Polaroids?

No, you are not supposed to shake Polaroids. Shaking the photo can actually cause damage to the image by disrupting the development process. Instead, lay the photo face down on a flat surface, allowing it to develop undisturbed for the recommended time.

Do You Need to Shake Polaroids?

Do You Need to Shake Polaroids?

You do not need to shake Polaroids. Contrary to popular belief, shaking the photo can harm the image quality during development. Place the picture face down on a flat surface to ensure the best results and let it develop naturally for the suggested time.

Why Do People Shake Polaroids?

Why Do People Shake Polaroids?

People shake Polaroids due to a common misconception, perpetuated by pop culture, that shaking the photo helps it develop faster. Shaking the picture can cause uneven development and potentially damage the image. It is best to let the Polaroid develop undisturbed on a flat surface for optimal results.

Final Thoughts

Shaking your Polaroids was a way to speed up the process of getting pictures developed and looking fabulous in the 60s.

But today, if you want the best result from your Polaroids, it’s best to be patient and let the film do its job and develop in its own time.

If you still want that nostalgic feeling of shaking the Polaroid, wait a little before to make sure you don’t ruin the picture to feel fantastic.