Digital photography has made a lot of things easier. Everyone with a common sense for composition and perspective and a little knowledge about exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO has the possibility to create an aesthetic masterpiece – safely locked up on a memory card and a hard-drive. The sheer amount tourists and travelers with bulky DSLR cameras around their necks has rapidly spiraled upwards in the recent years.

After 5 years of owning and shooting a DSLR camera every attempt of taking a picture with a point-and-shoot pocket digital camera turns my brain into a giant database of questions. How am I supposed to take a good picture if I can’t set aperture and shutter speed? Is exposure really the only variable? How horrible is digital zoom? I miss my view finder and the shutter sound…
Just recently I dug out one of my dad’s old analogue SLR and look forward to finding my way through hardly controllable focus points, film-dependent ISO and getting rid of that certain look to check the pic on the display.

When I think about photography I often wonder, why not go even further back? Flea markets are full of old Lomo and Polaroid cameras, as are my friend’s apartment’s walls with self-developing images. Then I stumbled upon a new kind of tour leading through my hometown Vienna and I new I had found the perfect activity for my trip home: PolaWalk.

Back to the roots of Photography: PolaWalk in Vienna

PolaWalk is a brand-new tour company operating in Vienna since August 2013. On their Polaroid Photography Tours participants are equipped with an original Polaroid Camera and a self-developing film by The Impossible Project containing 8 images. After a quick introduction to instant photography the “PolaWalkers” go on a tour through Vienna’s city center, passing some of its most important landmarks like St Karl’s Church, the State Opera, the imperial palace Hofburg, the rose garden in Volksgarten (folk’s park), the City Hall and Votive Church. They are accompanied by one of the founders Thomas and Gilbert who encourage them to take the risk and shoot a picture here and there. However, don’t expect the guides to talk facts and history about the sights on your way, but rather about the cameras and rules of photography. Groups have a maximum size of 6 people and there’s plenty of room for questions about composition of your image and technical details about the cameras.

Back to the roots of Photography: PolaWalk in Vienna

So what’s behind the new hype about instant photography?

The first commercial instant camera hit the US-American market in 1948, even though the concept of a camera being connected to a portable darkroom was already invented in 1923. After decades of success the business’ most popular company POLAROID Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and announced that the production of self-developing film material would be shut down. However, a couple of Austrians couldn’t stand the idea of thigh-high layers of dust on their Polaroid cameras and founded “The Impossible Project”. They bought one of the old Polaroid production plants in the Netherlands and started producing new films for the original camera equipment in 2010. Instant photography is safe for now.

Back to the roots of Photography: PolaWalk in Vienna

Jumping onto the train of mainstream interest in photography and worldwide vintage movements, PolaWalk was created to bring Polaroid photos back onto the streets and everybody’s walls. Whether you are a Viennese resident or a visitor the Polaroid photography tours are a great way of changing your perspective onto the city. The resulting images are unique souvenirs to decorate your apartment with or send to friends around the world – something “handmade” to take with you.

Back to the roots of Photography: PolaWalk in Vienna

Generally PolaWalk offers its tours in English, only if everyone speaks German the language is adjusted. Their program includes photography tours, workshops emphasizing on what’s possible with a Polaroid camera and Madame Tussaud’s Polaroid Tours for the rainy days.

The price of 49€ includes a tour guide, a rental Polaroid camera and a color film with 8 pictures. If you bring your own Polaroid camera or share one with a friend, there’s a “Ticket without Camera” for 29€. Additional films can be bought for 20€. There are two tours per day – in the morning and in the afternoon. After the tour there is the possibility to look at all participant’s pictures and grab some coffee at the office.

Back to the roots of Photography: PolaWalk in Vienna

So if you’re in Vienna the next time book a tour with PolaWalk. If you’re a busy instagrammer like me, getting used to the square format is not the problem. Believe me, knowing that there are only a total of 8 pictures to capture the beauty of Vienna is enough of a thrill to give this a try! Even more than with my DSLR “Think, then Click” is the ultimate rule here.

You can now book a tour with Polawalk in Vienna, Graz and Warsaw!

This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!