How To: Organize Your Polaroid Film

how to organize instant film (8)I have a massive amount of Polaroids and over the years I’ve discovered a few ways for organizing and storing them so I thought I’d share. As the film is no longer common these days there is not a lot products available for storing the film and in fact almost all of my organizers were not intended to be used for Polaroid film. A big distinction I want to mention is when  I say Polaroids I am referring to  pack film whether it’s Polaroid pack film or the Fujifilm FP-3000B or FP-100C variety (which is still made) and not the other types of Polaroid film. I’ll also be giving tips on how to store your negatives for pack film, if like me you like to keep them instead of throwing them away.

Organize Your Polaroid Film

how to organize instant film (1)I use every one of these to store and organize my film and negatives at home and when I am out shooting with my vintage Polaroid cameras. Below I break them down in seperate categories of what they are best for and where to find them.

Practical & On the Go

how to organize instant film (5)To be honest this is 90% of what I use for my storage, it’s not the best looking solution but it functions perfectly and for someone who takes a lot of instant photographs it’s very easy to manage and affordable. These are Print File Archival Negative Pages ($10 for 25 pages) which I just put inside a normal 3 ring binder. If you are just storing the film you can put several in each 4×5 pocket because the pack film is actually smaller than the pockets, which also makes for easy removal.  If you want use the pages for display you can fit 8 pieces of film on one page using the front and back side. The clear plastic makes it easy to see and no PVC means its great long term storage. I also use these pages, minus the binder when I am outside shooting. I simply bring along as many pages as I need and slip into my bag. The pages fold up easily so you can get it down to the size of just 1 pocket making it easy to bring along. After I’m done taking a photo on my camera I’ll wait for the film to dry and slip it inside one of the pockets. This makes sure my film stays free of dirt, does not touch anything else, and if it isn’t completely dry the worst it will do is stick to the plastic which in my case has never wrecked the film as you can effortlessly peel them apart. Two things to note when using these pages while on the go is that they will collect dirt over time so you will need to replace them after a while and the pages will not prevent the film bending so you want to make sure you are putting these somewhere flat. In my camera bag I put the pages in between the cushion and the outside part of my bag, folded up together, haven’t had a issue with bent photos yet.

Decorative:

how to organize instant film (7)The classic way or decorative way for storage is a photo album. You can use modern albums or vintage like I have here in the above shot. Vintage Polaroid photo albums are easy to find online and thrift shopping. I picked up this cute 70s album on Etsy for $10 (examples here) and two plain leather ones for a few dollars locally. They provide affordable storage and very charming at the same time. Keep in mind though that Polaroid film comes in many different sizes, for pack film the perfect album has pockets sized 3 ½ x 4 ¼. Most vintage albums will be this size or large on average so if you don’t mind a bit of extra room there isn’t many that will not work, just avoid square shaped pockets as they are not for pack film and likely too small. You can see in the photo above these vintage albums are great as well for holding smaller vintage photography! Modern albums are made for 4×6  film so technically pack film will fit but I prefer the two above options more. For photography portfolios however I like using Portfolio Nobel albums which come in all different sizes, the smallest being 4×6 or 5×7, I simply use photo corners to keep the Polaroids centered.

Negative Storage:

When I am out taking photos with my Polaroid I always like to keep the negative side whether I am shooting in black and white or color. So to make sure I can carefully carry back all negatives home I use a simple plastic sheet protector that you can get cheap from any office supplies store, or Dollar store. It can be folded up neatly in any bag before use and doesn’t take up any space at all.  Once it has negatives in it what it does is protect my bag and camera equipment from getting any of emulsions and developing goo on them, and only takes up as much room as the negatives. The sheet protector is also long enough to fit the whole back side of the Polaroid including the negative and the paper tab without trimming. This is really important especially if you are shooting and don’t have the time, or the ability to let the negatives dry completely. I normally don’t putting them in completely wet but I have, even with two negatives at once facing away from each other and not had an issue. They will stick to the plastic and stay a little moist but if you must…it’s a great way to get them home. The plastic protector will get dirty with the chemicals after several uses but you can wash it or throw away if it’s too far gone.

how to organize instant film (3)Once I am home I like to store the pre-negatives in a plastic container until I have a chance to clean and turn them into proper negatives (only with color pack film – black and white you can scan right away).  I picked up this plastic storage container made for 4×6 photography from an art store for a few dollars, it fits the negatives perfectly without me needing to trim the sides or tab. It can sometimes take a few months for me to process them so it’s nice to have a large container to store them in the meantime. You can also use this for storing the film while out shooting but it takes up a larger area, however it’s great for a long vacation when you want to store film in your suitcase.  For storing the negatives after processing them, I use the same Print File pages again and store in a binder.  I’ve actually wanted to do a tutorial on how to make the back side of pack film into negatives for over a year and never get around to putting all my thoughts together but if you interested and don’t currently do this with yours here one video and another as a guide.

I hope this was helpful! I know when I first started shooting with vintage Polaroid cameras I had no idea how to organize them or store them safely when I was shooting. One time I put my film in-between the pages of my camera manual thinking the film was completely dried and ended up ripping out two pages of the manual as the pages got stuck to the emulsion. Wrecking my vintage manual for the camera and the photo almost entirely, since then I have never trusted pack film to ever be dry no matter how dry it feels. With these organizers I’m really happy with my the safety of my film when I’m shooting and know it’ll get home fine, not to metion how easy it is to find a photo I need in my big binder. If you have any questions about this ask below and please share any tips or suggestions you have!

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Vintage Tuesday: Long Beach in Polaroids

Long Beach on Vancouver Island is one of the few places in Canada I’ve been that feels like nowhere else.  Situated in the Pacific Rim area of the island sandwiched between two small holiday towns (Tofino and Uculelet) and surrounded by the rainforest, it’s pretty magical. Not to mention there is nothing between it and the raw span of the Pacific ocean that reaches all the way to Japan. It feels like a raw untapped environment, the bear lockers as well certainly back that up. The highway trip there however might persuade you not to visit; we twisted and turned constantly through the mountains for a few hours to get to this secluded area of the island. Even after only being there twice in my lifetime once as a kid and an adult I feel a connection with the place. If you ever get the chance or plan a trip to Vancouver Island – I’d say jump on it. These were all taken with my Polaroid Super Shooter Shot using Fujifilm FP-100C film instant film.

long beach in polaroids (6)long beach in polaroids (14) long beach in polaroids (3)long beach in polaroids (4)long beach in polaroids (12)long beach in polaroids (11)long beach in polaroids (15)long beach in polaroids (18)long beach in polaroids (1)long beach in polaroids (10)A great day at the beach, enjoying the waves and landscape.

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Vintage Tuesday: Childhood Polaroids

What’s more fun that really old childhood polaroids? I can’t think of much but then again I really love looking through photos of anyone for that matter (seriously come over to my house with your old photos – I will spend so much time looking through them). So when my father sent me an usb-drive of childhood photos I was thrilled. I wanted to share the Polaroid shots because I’ve never owned a Polaroid camera until years after they stopped making film so it delights me a lot to see any.
If you like the classic style of Polaroid film you may enjoy these random few.

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Me in my Sunday church outfit. 

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As well as my brothers, all squinting for some reason.

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I think we can all agree I look very drunk in both of these photos. Sure I am probably like between the ages of 1-2 years old but that’s the face of a drunk baby.  It’s Christmas time at my grandma’s house and I love that my brothers and me have matching pjs for the occasion.

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More Christmas polaroids. It appears that Christmas is the rare time when it calls for instant photography. Btw, it’s always easy to spot me even though I look like a boy in all these just from the blond hair alone. 

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The last two of the polaroids I am sharing, sadly my family wasn’t really into them.  Even though we aren’t young and cute (and my dad’s ex-girlfriend is in them) I had to include these cos what the HELL is happening in these photos? I have no idea so make up your own story.

I do also have another post of my small personal collection of polaroids here, if you’d like to see more.

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Zine of the Month: Uncommon Spaces & Everyday Places Vol 2

The zine I picked for August’s Zine of the Month is Uncommon Spaces & Everyday Places Vol 2 by Erin Dorbin which takes you on journey down her 2013 travels down the Lincoln Highway in United States. Her 52 paged zine includes instant photographs taken with her Polaroid 195 Land Camera using Fuji FP-100C and expired Polaroid film as well some writing about the journey. She also includes along with the zine, 5 reproductions shots nicely printed out in the style and size of the originals. I personally loved it and thought it’s the perfect read for the summer when you are going on road trips and the prints are super nice.  Sadly this was a limited edition zine and she currently sold out just last month I believe. However in the future she may chose to reprint and Vol. 3  is coming out this Fall!  For now you can check out her website for more information about her photography.

Uncommon Spaces & Everyday Places Vol. 2

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Double Exposure: Polaroids

I absolutely love taking double exposure with vintage Polaroid land cameras, although not always successful it’s really fun to test and see what you can get. I’ve shared these photos before but wanted to reshare them as after a year of taking multiple exposures with instant film these are my personally most successful. I find using trees as one of the shots usually results in an interesting result however putting this post together I realized how often I use them and really want to explore this summer on using more variety. I’d love to do a series of double exposures with graffiti from around Montreal so hopefully I will get a chance to explore that idea more. Man it feels like a really long time since I’ve actually used my Polaroid Colorpack or Super Shot cameras, I really need to pick up more film and get back into shooting. Hope you enjoy the shots.

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Vintage Tuesday: Polaroid Emulsion Lifts

Last month marked the first time I ever tried to do Polaroid emulsion lifts (did a little DIY about it here) and I ended up  with a lot of them because they are so fun to do and play around with.  I absolutely love the idea of transferring my instant photography into something else and try making art out of them. Today I wanted to show you all of the ones I did while trying it out. They are on various surfaces from watercolor paper, canvas board to wood. I still haven’t completed them and put the finishing touches on them as I’m unsure of which ones I will end up keeping but I love them so much in their raw state as well. I will be sure to show you more next time I do them. Currently I don’t have any more Fujifilm that I would like to emulsion lift but I want to start shooting in the Spring again so I’m sure there is more to follow.

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Monthly DIY: Fujiflim Emulsion Lifts

This month’s DIY is one of those projects I’ve wanted to do for years and could never get myself organized enough to actually do. So I’m finally doing Polaroid Emulsion Lifts! Emulsion lifts in the grand scheme of things are actually very easy to do and the results can be utterly wonderful and most importantly unique. I love any project where you can do your own spin to it. Now mine are technically not ‘Polaroid’ Emulsion Lifts as I shoot with Fujifilm FP-100C and the two types of film do require slightly different techniques so my steps are for Fujifilm emulsion lifts but the tips I have are useful to both in case you shoot with Polaroid/Impossible Project film. The two big things that you need are instant photographs and a surface, let’s get into it.

fujifilm polaroid emulsion lift(my first emulsion lift)

What You’ll Need:

  • Fujilfim or Polaroid instant film
  • Boiling & cold water
  • 2 Baking container
  • Paint brushes
  • Canvas, wood, watercolor paper, metal…
  • Medium

Time and Cost:

Cost is roughly $10 depending on how many pieces you want to make if you already have the film. The small pieces of wood and canvas were around $1 each from my local art store. If you don’t have any old Polaroids or Fujifilm FP-100 you can easily buy a vintage Polaroid camera, and buy Fujifilm FP-100 film or Impossible Project film.  The price for that would depending on how cheaply you can get the camera but I would encourage you that if you like these, it’d be worth your while. Plus then you’d have an instant camera you could keep and continue to use. The cost of film depends, Fujifilm is $10 per roll of 10 exposure and Impossible Project is $20+.

polaroid instant photography
Steps:

  1. Shoot the film and decided what ones you’d like to use for this project. Film can be used at anytime, most of the lifts I did were on ones I shoot a year ago.
  2. Cut the white sides of the film that frame the photo so just the image remains.
  3. Setup area, have both bake trays beside each other. Have paper towel, your surface, medium and brushes handy. Fill one tray with tap water.
  4. Boil water and place into other bake tray, let cool down slightly.
  5. Drop in  film and wait for 1-5 minutes
  6. Place in cold water
    *You can skip the cold water, it’s not necessary however I find the emulsion tends to be a bit more relaxed and less likely to curl in the cold water over the hot and you can leave it in the cold water. 
  7. Start using the brush to remove the emulsion part of the film away
    *You can use your fingers or a card to scrape it away as well
  8. Remove the paper part of the film and throw away.
    At this point you have two separate choices on how to apply the emulsion to the desired surface:
  9. WET METHOD: With emulsion still in the water simple place surface below it and smooth out emulsion until you have it the way you’d like. Place back in water anytime if you want to uncurl the emulsion or rearrange it. Lift out of the water and dry the surface using a paper towel. Apply medium on top of the lift and the sides. Make sure fully coated and no corners are sticking up.
  10. DRY METHOD: Apply medium to your surface using a paint brush only on the area you would like the emulsion to be, acting quickly take the emulsion out of the water and dry before spreading it out over the surface, using your brush, fingers or roller to smooth out the emulsion or create patterns.

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Now I know I usually have photos or a video for my DIY’s but this type of project has been around for decades and the internet is virtually filled with videos on how various people do their emulsion transfers. To be honest I don’t do mine like any of the video’s I’m about to link you but they are great for learning the ropes of how to get started doing emulsions lifts. It’s a very easy project and there isn’t a lot to figure out, it’s mostly just practice makes perfect / trial and error. Two great videos however are Tiffany Teske’s video of Fujil Emulsion Lifts & Transfer   and Wayne Lam’s Polaroid Film Lift

Tips and Tricks:

  • I shoot a lot of instant film and sometimes mistakes happen so those underexposed, overexposed and just plain blurry shots are great to work with while you are building your confidence up and technique.
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  • Fujifilm emulsion is actually moderately sturdy, my general impress prior was that it would delicate and not allow for much handling but it’s surprisingly okay with being man handled. It’s similar to saran wrap.
  • So now that I’ve said you can man-handle it a bit, here is where I say – try not to man-handle it too much. It can tear, but honestly most of my tears happened because I didn’t trim the edges of the film fully.
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    (I didn’t trim the white edges in this one)
  • The white part of the film is very well secured to the emulsion so save yourself the hassle and trim it off.
  • Hey maybe you want to tear your film, or make is wavy like the ocean, the emulsion doesn’t need to be laid perfect stretched out, in fact that gets a little boring after a while.
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  • Those shots you thought are ‘bad’ or not what you wanted could make an amazing lift, just try it out.
  • Do not have the water too hot or leave it in the hot water too long,  the film texture will change or bubble.
  • Sometimes the water will go a yellow color, this is most likely just left over chemical from the development process, don’t be scared.
  • Layer up!
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    (mine isn’t an epic layered lift, but just google emulsions lifts – there is so many amazing ones)
  • Watercolor paper is my favourite surface, the texture it gives the emulsions I find really pleasing. The emulsion will take on the texture of your surface so keep that in mind. It will also to a degree take on the color of the surface as well.
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  • If you are doing the dry method and you make a mistake and think your medium will dry simply put back into water and rinse both the surface and emulsion and start work again. I use the water method the most as you can just play with the emulsion a lot. You can also use a piece of glass or clear plastic to play with the emulsion prior to drying.
  • Do as many tests are you need to feel comfortable, don’t jump into doing your favourite Polaroid or Fujifilm shot in the first few tries as I’d hate for your to be feel like you wrecked a photo you really liked. I actually am terrified of ruining them even though I scan all my instant photography so I have a digital copy. So terrified that most of the lifts I’ve done so far are ‘whatever’ shots.
  • Don’t be pretentious about them, and try any surface you can find.

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(a gift to a friend, it cracks me up)

 This was mostly “I Tried” instead of full DIY as I just really wanted to do the project. I’m still no fully convinced I’d want to do this on my more beloved instant photos but it’s super fun and I can’t wait to actually shoot film with the intention of turning them into emulsion lifts. I’ll be showing all my emulsion lifts that I’ve done so far this upcoming Tuesday as this post is already pretty long. Let me know if you make any of your own and share below. I’m obsessed with these and love looking at them. This is a project I really want to get better at.

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Christmas Picks: Under $30

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Today I am sharing some present ideas found online for under $30 that would make a great gift for a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or yourself (Treat yourself!) this holiday. If you want to see last week’s post with under $15 gift ideas click, here. I’m currently obsessed with all of these and hoping after I finished my Christmas shopping I can buy one of these for myself. The dragon bracelet is my fav. even though I make my own scale maille bracelets but that color is impossible to find. Hope this helps!

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Camping Polaroids

I took these camping polaroids back in September during a trip to Sandbanks Provincial Parks on the edge of Lake Ontario (I’ve already showed you a few I took at the beach from that trip, here). I was really excited to bring my Polaroid Super Shot on the trip as it gave me an opportunity to use some of my Flashcubes that I’ve been hording. I love using Flashcubes, it’s so amazing that they work after all this time and the results are pretty good. It’s hard to work out the perfect distance especially when its pitch black so the subjects are over exposed in a few shots. When I have the distancing down the results are wonderful however. Most of these were taking the first night we were there when we were cooking over the camp fire, sausages and marshmallows. I love trying to cook the perfect marshmallows so I spent a good amount of time sitting beside the fire taking photos from my seat. We also went for a walk later down to the beach to watch the stars. I didn’t have much film so I didn’t dare try and take a long exposure shots of the stars but there is one of the gang all there and Victor laying on the beach (which he yelled at me about because he said I ruined his star watching experience with the flash – oops). I think in the New Year I’ll do a post about using Flashcubes as they are a big part of vintage photography and really fun. Here are the polaroids:

camping polaroidspolaroid instant photography camping (9)polaroid instant photography camping (2)polaroid instant photography camping (1)The first few are from the morning of our second day there during breakfast and the rest of them are from the evening before. The evening ones never really dried properly because of the constant dewiness of the night so some of them the emulsion was smudged which was a shame. I even laid them out at breakfast to dry but they maintain a kind of tackiness regardless. At least I know now that Fujifilm FP-100c and camping are not the best combo unless you have a way of drying the film completely right away.

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Beach Polaroids

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For this week’s Vintage Tuesday I wanted to share with you some of the instant photos I took while camping a few weeks ago in Ontario. We went to the main beach of the Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County on both days of the trip so we could swim and enjoy the sun. It was a blistering hot day, although the water was still pretty chilly on both days. The cold water didn’t stop me and Victor from enjoying it and spending most of our time swimming. I just had to take photos of Victor in the water because I loved the composition of him with the water around him and the beach in the background. I did take a few landscapes shots of the beach dunes and the park, and the beach itself as well. The beach was so sandy, a big change from what I’m used to. We definitely don’t have beaches this nice in Quebec. All the photos I’m sharing today were taken with my Polaroid Super Shot using Fujifilm FP-100C.

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