I am writing to you on this fine day, the 14th of February, 2016 to tell you about how I acquired the product of my dreams; your Instax Mini 8 camera.
This nifty ‘lil shooter is in my favorite shade of blue. It is matte and smooth to touch. The size is perfect and it looks very durable. I actually dropped it a few times, with nary a scratch on its body to reveal how clumsy I am.
I took my brand new Instax Mini 8 for a test ride on my recent trip to Hongkong. But, I never liked that place much to be honest. The smell of ginseng is inescapable. Everything is expensive. Everyone is in a hurry, and no one will apologize for bumping into you. It was my fifth time in that country, and I already took many pictures of Hongkong, but truth be told, there was something within its borders that my bulky 18 megapixel camera could never capture.
My first day was not easy. The 16 hour journey left me tired and grumpy. The humidity gripped my body like a vice, and I immediately felt stifled, even if I was escaping a relatively mild winter in Montreal. However, the huge double-decker airport bus was better than how I remembered it. I had an unobstructed view of the road, with the teeny Toyota Crown taxi cabs speeding by my toes. My hands hovered at the Instax Mini’s ergonomic shutter button. I wanted to take a photo, but decided against it. Not now. Save it for later, said a voice inside my head.
My Tsim Sha Tsui bound bus dropped me off at the end of Nathan Road. I passed by all the Indian men, who pointed at the cards they held by their hips, as they beckoned, “Hotel Room. Very cheap.” I didn’t need to use their services because my last minute Agoda booking, already indicated that the cheapest bed I could find was in Chungking Mansions. Infamous for its overstacked stores selling everything from gray market electronics, to spicy Chicken Biryani, and counterfeit Cialis. The overworked elevator took me to the receptionist, where he gave me the keys for a room not with the company I booked. But to the next one, named Germany Hostel. I didn’t care.
A bed is a bed, and what a bed I had. It was comfortable though, although I doubt someone with a height of 6 feet and 3 inches would say the same thing. Directly across my bed was a young Korean businessman who mistook me for one of his countrymen. And on the top bunk was a Scottish lad named Arthur, who was at the most melancholic stage of his gap year. I passed by an affable South Asian man as I went out of the hostel for a very late dinner. I thought to myself that Hongkong is pleasant if I didn’t have to deal with its natives.
This tiny country boasts of multiple Michelin starred restaurants but for some goshdarn reason, as this city’s clocks were about to chime for midnight. I ended up at the warmth of Mcdonald’s neon arches.
The weather was horrible during my stay. Periodic showers and gray skies. It was not the optimal environment for picture taking. However, my blue, tiny and lightweight Instax Mini 8 comes well-equipped with different shooting modes. I was confident that my prints would turn out perfect had I decided on using it. But I thought about how much apathy I felt for this city. Its unfeeling crowds. The undisciplined motorists. I was very much alone, and I felt that I wouldn’t have done your great camera justice if I snapped one picture, only to get it over with. I didn’t want to waste my film on anything less than a majestic moment. I am quite sure your company made this fine camera with the same purpose in mind.
Your company might think that my love for your wonderful camera is directly proportional to my hatred for Hongkong. Far from it, I merely dislike this city. I could never hate a place that I do not understand. This country has its charms, or else Arthur would not have been so sad about leaving it. I tried to like it too, so very much. I looked away from the idiosyncrasies of a Rolex store next to a pharmacy, scattered at every few hundred meters or so. I rode a ferry to catch the pricey tram up to Victoria Peak. For all my efforts, I was rewarded with rain, smog and zero visibility. I even braved the crowds to see the supposedly famous light show. Yet, what I witnessed was underwhelming at best.
My trip was not all in vain. I found comfort in their food. This city’s dumplings are beautiful creations, lovingly sculpted by artisans. Eating them was a glorious, almost religious experience. It was just smashed pork with silky broth, but I can swear it is the most nutritious thing I’ve ever tasted. I only needed one reason to come back. There it was, staring at me in a nondescript dim sum shop.
The xiao long baos left me happy, they were the best thing about this city. At that moment, people of Fujifilm, I would have taken a picture of those hot, steamy dumplings. It would have been simple, because your company had the insight to include batteries in your packaging. Only, yet again, I did not take it. I restrained myself from doing so.
You see, a Polaroid camera limits the shots that I am able to make. The film is finite, so I take just one photograph; most of the time in your fool-proof auto setting. I don’t need to fiddle with the buttons or obsess about the perfect shot. This gives me more time to enjoy where I am, what I am doing and who I am with. Also, your cute design makes it nearly impossible to use the Instax Mini 8 for selfies. I like to think, it’s because the moments that deserve to be preserved in print are those that are shared, with people who matter most to you.
I wrote this for you good people at the Fujifilm corporation because I’d like to tell your company how much I adore my Instax Mini 8. I love being able to handle a photograph, a frozen moment in time. I love that waiting for the image to slowly materialize is an exercise in patience. Hoping for the best. That it doesn’t turn out blurry, or bad. I love that I will love that photo regardless of the outcome. I love that something as simple as a flimsy film of plastic can feel as good as a hug, a physical manifestation of how happiness is shared. You can touch it and feel it in your fingertips, you can keep it in your wallet, or anywhere really. It just becomes yours in the truest sense of the word.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, Fujifilm people. I feel incredibly happy with my camera. You have no idea how much I love it. It is way better than I can ever imagine. It is so perfect for me and I can’t wait to have more adventures with it.
And if your company is curious if I ever did get to try my Instax Mini 8 out, I did. In a different city, while on a grand adventure with the wonderful person who gave me this tiny, blue camera.