Polaroid art

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An example of Polaroid art.

Polaroid art is a type of alternative photography which consists of modifying an instant picture, usually while it is being developed. The most common types of Polaroid art are the emulsion lift, the Polaroid transfer and SX-70 manipulation.

Emulsion lift[edit]

An emulsion lift, or emulsion transfer, is a process used to remove the photographic emulsion from an instant print by introducing it in warm water. The emulsion can then be transferred to another material, such as glass, wood or paper.[1] It can also be folded, ripped or otherwise customized as desired. This technique can be performed on peel-apart film and Polaroid Originals integral film, but not on Fujifilm Instax film. The procedure to do an emulsion lift involves, for integral type film, cutting off the picture's border, separating the negative layer from the positive layer and submerging the positive layer in warm water. The emulsion will start to become free from the plastic layer and it will float on the water. While it is still wet, it can be placed in another material and shaped. When done with Fujifilm FP-100C, the picture is placed in water near the boiling point and then submerged in cold water.[2] This will release the emulsion, which resembles cellophane and is harder to manipulate than Polaroid emulsions.[3]

Polaroid transfer[edit]

A Polaroid transfer, sometimes known as an image transfer, is a technique used to develop a peel-apart film picture on to a different material, like drawing paper. In a Polaroid transfer, the image is peeled apart prematurely and the negative is placed down on a desired material. A roller is sometimes used to ensure the negative is laying down flat on the material. After a certain amount of time, the negative is peeled back.[4]

SX-70 manipulation[edit]

An SX-70 manipulation.

SX-70 manipulation is used to modify SX-70 type integral film pictures while they're being developed. The technique is only possible with the original SX-70 Time Zero film, which was discontinued in 2005, and not with the currently manufactured Polaroid Originals film. When the picture starts development, modifications are performed by applying pressure to it with various tools. By placing the picture above a textured surface, pressure can be used to transfer the texture to the image. As development finishes, the emulsion hardens and it must be softened again by warming it up to continue the manipulation.[5] The technique was used to make the cover of Peter Gabriel's third self-titled album.[6]


  1. ^ "Transfer your Polaroid photos onto other materials using Emulsion Lift techniques". DIY Photography. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  2. ^ "Fujifilm Cable Release Vol.8" (PDF). Fujifilm USA. May 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-01-10. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  3. ^ "Fuji FP-100C Emulsion/Image Transfer". Instant Film Society. 2012-06-27. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  4. ^ Polaroid Image Transfer Demo, retrieved 2020-01-10
  5. ^ Polaroid SX-70 Manipulation Demo, retrieved 2020-01-10
  6. ^ Classic Rock 2010 calendar

External links[edit]