Nighttime is the Right Time for Instant Polaroids

‘Tis the season for holiday parties and nights on the town so bust out your instant camera and get snapping with these helpful tips!

This post comes from our blog intern, Monica!

We live in a world where everything is instant and immediate, virtual and viral. Although I love being able snap countless photos on my phone camera, having a physical photograph is so much more memorable to me. Holding a picture is holding a memory, and it feels more personal than scrolling back through 27 weeks of Instagram to relive that moment. Instant photography holds a nostalgic quality that you can’t get on a phone screen and that’s why I love it. It combines the immediacy that I’m used to while still reminding me about the magic of the past.

Typically I shoot with a digital camera but, to capture special moments, I bust out my instant camera. The holiday season is when I use my camera most because it is full of extraordinary moments with friends and family, exactly the kind of moments I want to cherish forever. Although any kind of photography takes a little practice, we are here to help! Here’s how to step up your instant photography game this season:


After turning on the camera, give it a moment to load and start up. Each camera body style is different, but most new instant cameras have light indicators that will flash red until the camera is ready to take photos, at which point it will emit a steady green light.

Set the camera to the indoor setting, even if you’re outside at night. If it’s on a different setting, the flash will neither fire nor be its optimal brightness.


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You may experience a one- or two-second delay from the time you hit “snap” to when the photograph is actually generated. If you are trying to capture movement, keep this in mind so you can prepare to get the shot you want!

After you shoot any image, touch only the edges of the film, allowing the image to dry and develop.

If you are looking for a softer illumination with fewer shadows, put a little piece of white electrical tape over the flash. This will diffuse the flash and give your images a subtler glow instead of the harsh, bright contrast that is so quintessential of an instant camera.

If you’re in a bright area and don’t want the flash to fire at all, change the settings to outdoor or hold your hand over the flash to prevent it from overexposing your image.

Because most instant cameras don’t utilize a macro or close-up lens, try to maintain at least one foot of distance from whatever you’re shooting. If you’re too close the flash will overexpose the subject or the result may be blurry. After trial and error, I’ve found that the best results happen when I shoot about 3 feet away from my subject for well-balanced exposure.

If you’re outside, say on a city street, it can be difficult to get a great photo from far away. This is because the bit of light emitting from the flash gets lost in space whereas when shooting indoors, the light is able to potentially bounce off of walls and illuminate the photo. If you’re shooting outdoors at night, I suggest sticking to close-up photos, keeping your subject within 10 feet from you, unless you’re in a well-lit area.



Most importantly
Remember to have fun with it! The novelty of a snapshot, even though it might not be flawlessly composed or perfectly angled, it is a manifestation of that moment, a keepsake captured. Experiment and try different techniques to find what works best for your photography style and keep practicing!


Don’t forget to add your polaroids to FP Me!

Monica used the Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s for this post.

+I want to know what your tips are for night photography! Let me know in the comments and happy snapping!!

Follow Monica on Instagram and FP Me!

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7 years ago

I’m so in love with polaroids, I think that they have those very special colours!

7 years ago

Such pretty pictures! I rarely use my instax camera because I haven’t had good results with it. I’m determined to try again after reading this.

5 years ago

Your photos are beautiful! I’m going to a New Years Party and this is super helpful!

4 years ago

I am so going to try again and again I am doing a project for class and would like to use some pictures I take for a slide show.

4 years ago

thank you!! these tips were super helpful. i have a mini 9, and i always wondered how people took such great polaroids outside at night, as mine always turned out pitch black. now i know to use indoor setting instead of cloudy next time i try! thanks again!!

Sherry Smith
3 years ago

In some of my pics there is a blob of overexposure in the upper left corner. I am indoors and using the flash. What am I doing wrong?