Max's retro instant photo camera is a major gameplay element in Life is Strange. Max Caulfield's camera is used primarily to complete optional photograph objectives around specific locations in Arcadia Bay.
When Max was a child, her parents gave her a Polaroid camera - a type of instant camera typically manufactured by the Polaroid Corporation. As a result, Max maintained her interest and wish to become a photographer until she reached adult age.
When the Caulfields moved to Seattle, Max perfected her skills as a photographer and was later accepted into Blackwell Academy over the summer of 2013. Despite the advancement of cameras and the digital age, Max maintained the use of analog cameras, despite the rising expenses of analog camera film and the work that goes into maintaining them. Max writes in her diary that she was always drawn to old analog camera gear and loves all kinds of styles and techniques, the instant camera selfie is the one she loves the most.
Life is Strange Edit
During the confrontation with Nathan Prescott at the Blackwell Academy parking lot in Episode 1, "Chrysalis", Max falls on the ground and breaks her camera. After failing to fix it at Chloe's house, Chloe Price gives her a replacement camera as a belated birthday gift that originally belonged to her father, William Price.
If Max chooses to save Arcadia Bay, Max will "revert" to her original yellow camera which will never have been broken in the first place. Max will also receive William's old camera from Joyce as seen in the last timestream montage, it is unknown camera she will use from this moment on.
Alternative Timeline Edit
In the alternative timeline, William uses his camera to take a picture of Chloe and Max, the same picture she uses to go back to this moment. Max also has the chance to use his camera to take a picture of Chloe and William cooking.
Before the Storm Edit
In "Farewell", Max finds a Polaroid camera that belongs to Chloe's father and can use it to take photos throughout the episode. When Max asks Chloe why her dad's camera is in her room, Chloe tells Max that her dad said she could bring it up there for Max to use because he's tired of watching her drool all over herself every time he uses it - "his words."
- Max's cameras seem to be both Polaroid models, the brand is probably never mentioned during Season 1 for copyright reasons. However, the final choices in the game are shown as photographs printed on a typical Polaroid instant film. The name Polaroid can be seen, confirming Max is using an actual Polaroid. Since the 11-digit Polaroid code found under the pictures (normally found only on the back of the photographs) doesn't include any letter, it confirms that it is an integral film and not a Peel-Apart Pack Film. Also, for integral films, the first two-digit reveal the month while the third indicates the year. The numbers 055 and 000 on the two Polaroids don't make sense if one consider when the game takes place.
- Max's camera is likely based on the Polaroid JobPro and most of the other models from 600 Polaroid camera line; the camera Chloe gave her is based on the Polaroid 1200si from the Polaroid Image/Spectra line of Polaroid cameras.
- In the Before the Storm bonus episode "Farewell", Max mentions mention the name Polaroid, saying "I love how Polaroid cameras make every photo look a little nostalgic."
- Whenever Max takes a photograph, she shakes the picture before placing it in her bag. It is not recommended to shake modern Polaroid film like the The Impossible Project. Shaking the photograph does not help develop the photograph faster and could damage the quality of picture taken. This doesn't apply to old film, before circa the 70's.
- Max's camera probably uses film from The Impossible Project, the only company in the world that continues to manufacture original format instant film for Polaroid cameras. This film is renowned to be expensive due to its exclusivity. Max even comments on this in the game: "Instant film is so damn hard to find and expensive now." In the Alternative Timeline, Max's mother texts her to ask her if she needs to spend so much, to which Max replies, "I only bought film, not a camera." Max's mother then suggests that "maybe it's time to go digital". It is likely that DONTNOD have based the design of Max's instant film packaging on The Impossible Project's packaging for their 1st-grade-formula 600 film.
- In the Director's Commentary, they mention it's very hard to tear apart a Polaroid as it's strong plastic and wouldn't normally be possible by hand. They decided to keep it because of the strong symbolism behind tearing apart Max's Everyday Heroes photo and perhaps it's bad Polaroid quality that makes it possible.
Concept Art Edit
Life is Strange Objects
|Max's Computer · Chloe's Computer · Dana's Computer · Victoria's Computer · Nathan's Computer · Principal Wells' Computer|
|Arcadia Bay Beacon · Blackwell Totem · The Bay Bud Weekly · The Great Northwest · The Independent|
|Max's Journal · Max's Camera · Photo Memorial Wall · Lisa the Plant · Warren's Flash Drive|