Last weekend I was fortunate to be asked by Shape Arts to work with them on a one day residency as part of the Liberty Festival in Stratford. I’ve done portrait sessions at events before – see here but I wanted to do something a little more challenging than previously. I’ve recently been getting my head around doing emulsion lifts with Polaroids (now Impossible Project) so thought this would be a good chance to take it a little further.
Now the portraits themselves were pretty straightforward – Polaroid camera, click, image pops out the bottom. However, the new film isn’t quite instant instant, you need to wait 20-30 mins for it to develop and also to keep it covered and away from the light. Next is the emulsion lift process (detailed elsewhere in this blog). That takes a little time too. I did manage to take around 30 portraits in one afternoon, but it was a lot of work to get through the soaking in water, the gently teasing off of the emulsion and then the transferring onto paper. And the buggers take a while to dry too.
I ended up with a small crowd watching me dab away with a small brush at the edges of the Polaroid. Each one took about 20 mins, which is one step up from watching paint dry. I do think people enjoyed the tactile nature of it though – seeing a photograph as an object rather than a digital file to be blasted to the four corners of the Earth with a couple of clicks. Younger people particularly weren’t used to seeing photographic prints, let alone something that could be manipulated in water and re-positioned as a new and unique object.