Instant magic

Photographer Toby Hancock's work looks like a trip into Southern California's past. With faded colors and simple composition, it is hard to guess exactly when in the last 30 years he took the photo. It could have been last week.

"I've been shooting Polaroid film since the mid 1980s and thirty years later, the magic that happens in the palm of my hand still amazes me," Hancock said. "I've heard that a developing Polaroid photo is one of the most complex man-made chemical reactions."


Hancock uses a Polaroid camera and Impossible Project instant film (and, on occasion, expired Polaroid film) to build his nostalgic-feeling portfolio.

As Polaroid film becomes harder to find, it is becoming prohibitively expensive to keep up as a hobby. And Impossible Project's film costs about $3 per photo.

"Film photography certainly makes you slow down and take much more care in composition and exposure," he said.

"I have over 30 years' experience using Polaroid cameras and while the results are usually somewhat predictable, there's always the potential for unexpected errors or mistakes. I tend to embrace those errors as they're unique and often become my favorite images."

See more of Hancock's Polaroids on Flickr and Instagram.

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Each week, we're featuring photos of Southern California and California submitted by readers. Share your photos on our Flickr page or tag your photos with #socalmoments or #californiamoments on Instagram and Twitter. Follow us on Twitter or visit for more.