Ok, I admit it but it’s true, I miss Polaroid! The conversation today revolved around film and how mad it would be to go back to processing (not that anyone’s suggesting we should!) when we’re all used to the speed and ‘efficiency’ of shooting digitally and yes, it would be hard to get back into shooting on film again, certainly for the kind of work I do and for clients that have to have shots emailed for approval, etc.
I tried explaining how film worked to my teenage daughter recently – she was interested in about 5 minutes then started laughing when I explained the dip and dunk process. By the time I’d got onto mounting trannies and tranny bags she was hysterical and couldn’t take any more. Kids of today…
But Polaroid was a faithful friend and yes, I do miss it. I worked with Peter Lavery whilst at college – he was (and still is) an inspiration to me with his energy and love of photography, and he would rub his Type 54 furiously for well over 2 minutes to make sure it was fully ‘cooked’ before tearing the paper apart to reveal the enclosed print. I even miss the ‘ching’ of the 5×4 roller processor as the metal clip was pulled through the rollers. But the smell. Oh, that smell! Type 59 (colour) was good or Type 55 (B&W with negative you could also use) had a great smell too – not sure what it was and it was probably highly toxic but it smelled good!
It is still possible to buy (Fuji make a good alternative too) and it’s still being used by some photographers, especially fine art snappers like Barbara Cole who have created the most beautiful images with Polaroid and taken it to another level, creating photographs that look like classic masterpieces by Da Vinci or David. Such as this set, called Painted Ladies, by Barbara Cole. The self-taught photographer not only challenges our reality, but she also does it all using Polaroid film – I bet she has the odd niff too.
If you’re interested in Polaroid then take a look at The Impossible Project where they have a small stock of refurbished SX-70 & 600 series camera and their own range of films.
Impossible started with a small team of the very best 10 former Polaroid employees who shared the passion as well as the belief in The Impossible dream. Every single one of them has a long time of expertise in the field of instant film production – more than 500 years of accumulated experience and knowledge. Without their work and support the Impossible Project would not have had the slightest chance to make the Impossible Possible. The Impossible Project currently employs 25 people in the factory in Enschede, Holland.
The film range includes PX 70 Color Shade for SX 70 cameras which tend to overexpose, especially in bright sunlight. With a little experimentation and adjustment of the lighten/darken wheel on your SX 70, you’ll find the right exposure setting for your camera.
This slightly high film speed (600 ASA) will give amazing color and tones in your correctly exposed SX 70 pictures, but it also opens up the opportunity to use this magic material in your 600 camera without the need of any additional filters. Simply insert the film in your Polaroid 600 camera, if necessary, add a little lighten adjustment and enjoy.
Also available is PX 680 Color Shade for Polaroid 600 cameras (as well as SX 70 camera equipped with ND filter and PZ680 for Polaroid Image/ Spectra cameras. ) and a rather nice looking PX black & white film for aspiring Helmut Newtons.
Also available is a Dry Age kit to protect the film from fading, due to the nature of the cheeky chemicals used, with a whole host of accessories for cameras.
If I’m honest, I don’t really see the point as everyone’s so used to shooting digitally and using apps like Instagram and Shake it that it seems irrelevant, but I have to confess I’d love to ‘shake it like a Polaroid picture’ again, and if they brought out a Type 55 version I’d be first in the queue, complete with dusty Sinar. If only to hear the ‘ching’ again…!
Incidentally, if you fancy a trip to Manchester and want to spend your hard earned money on an old Polaroid camera, The Real Camera Co have a stock of used (some still in original packing) bodies, and Fred Aldous stock Polaroid equivalent Fuji film, along with some fab looking Holga and Lomography gear too.
Thanks to Barbara Cole for use of her work www.barbaracole.com