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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Iowa chapter.

There’s no doubt about it: polaroid cameras have made a comeback. In a world focused on social media, instant gratification is expected, and that’s what makes instant cameras so fantastic. They not only give you instant gratification, but also have that nostalgic feeling that everybody loves as well. Ever since I got my Instax camera, I look for any opportunity to bring it along and take pictures of anything and everything.

However, it can be kind of hard to get the hang of taking pictures with a polaroid camera, and it’s a little disheartening to take a photo, watch it develop and look at it to only see that it’s overexposed or the subject is too far away or there’s somebody in the background of your photo. Here are some tips to help you start taking great polaroid pictures as soon as you get your camera.

1. Use the brightness dial

In order to make sure your photos aren’t washed out or too dark, make sure to use the brightness adjustment dial on the side of the camera. Your camera will automatically decide which lighting its in, but you’ll have to move the dial over to the lit-up part of it. The icons on the camera are Indoor Lighting (the house), Cloudy (the cloud), Sunny and Cloudy (the sun with less spokes of light around it) and Sunny and Bright (the sun with more spokes of light around it).

2. Get close

Instant camera film is tiny (the Instax Mini 9 has film that’s only 6.2 centimeters by 4.6 centimeters, so the image is pretty small. If you’re trying to take a picture of something or someone, make sure to get in closer than you would normally get with a digital camera- you obviously can’t zoom in and everything will look smaller no matter what on the film.

3. Get creative

There are a lot of things you can do to spice up your polaroid photos. Although the film with the white border has a classic look, you can add patterned stickers or buy film with a colored border. If you have an Instax camera, you can also buy lenses to put on the that are different colors, so that your photos will come out green, red, blue or any other color.

4. Show off your photos

One of the cool things about polaroid pictures is that you have a physical photo that you can use however you want. When it comes to showing off your photos, you can put them in little stand-up frames like I do on my desk, put them on your wall or in an album, hang them up with clothespins and some time and so much more.

5. Take the time to set up your shot

Instant camera film is expensive. For my camera, a 10-pack of film is typically around $10, so that’s basically $1 per photo. Taking your time and being patient is important because it’s super disappointing to have your photo develop and to see that it’s not what you expected it or wanted it to be.

Photos: cover1, 5.  

[All other photos via the author]

Rachel Green is a senior Journalism and Mass Communication Major at the University of Iowa. She is also earning two minors in Sport and Recreation Management and Spanish and a certificate in Creative Writing. She serves at Her Campus Iowa's Senior Editor, and is a member of Iowa's editorial team. When she's not working on something for Her Campus, she can be found studying in the library, doodling in her sketchbooks or curling up with a cup of tea and a book.  
U Iowa chapter of the nation's #1 online magazine for college women.