A Fine Art Polaroid Transfer is achieved by using Polaroid film, type 669. Several years ago, Polaroid Corporation decided to stop production of this film, due to the increase of photographers and fashion / advertising clients moving on to digital image capture. To urban landscape photographers with a penchant for Polaroid Transfer, like myself, this was a devastating thing to learn, and I suppose others like me went straight onto ebay and bought as much Polaroid Transfer film as they could afford before it became completely extinct.
As a fashion photographer, I was expected to shoot at least one to five Polaroid photographs of every clothing shot put in front of me. When digital fashion photographers started shooting directly into their computers, a client could see the result almost immediately and with even more precision than with the now out of fashion Polaroid images. For clients, this was a massive cost cutting experience, as they have now no need to pay as much as £500 per day solely on Polaroid film costs, not to mention saving £1,000 per day or more on conventional film and processing.
The process of creating a Fine Art Polaroid Transfer is tactile, and there are several ways to achieve a successful Polaroid Transfer print. Some photographers are lucky enough to own an old-style Polaroid camera that uses Polaroid 669 type film, while others have a Polaroid Print Enlarger, which, when loaded with a 35mm transparency, the image is projected onto the Polaroid film with the click of a button. Once an image is transferred to the film, it is pulled through a tight roller system that squeezes the developer chemistry between a positive and a negative, which when left for a couple of minutes in a normal temperature will release a lovely little Polaroid print when the positive is pulled away from the negative.
Creating a Polaroid Transfer is a somewhat more labour intensive process. After the image is transferred to the 669 Type Polaroid film, it isn’t left to process itself, but almost immediately pulled apart, and using a very hard rubber ink roller, the negative is placed downward onto a new paper substrate of your choice, or perhaps wood or metal. It is then diligently rolled onto the new recipient, which has first been prepared by wetting with chemicals of the photographer’s preference. Using extreme pressure to transfer the image from the negative to it’s new platform, the process is very quick, but difficult to achieve. Getting the right balance of chemical and pressure and choice of substrate can be frustrating, but very satisfying once the magic is achieved.