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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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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Factory Polaroids

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A few shots today taken with my Polaroid Colorpack IV of the Canadian Malting Silos that I am obsessed with here in Montreal. I wish I had a chance to  explore the inside but it’s bolted up pretty tight at the moment. Enjoyed biking there and having a look around the place anyways with Victor. The double exposure of him and the silos was the most successful shot of the day I think.  If you want to see photos taken with my Nikon click here! The two below are shots of the canel that goes through the area where the factory is and goes all the way to Vieux-Montreal.

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Spring Polaroids

spring polaroids (6)Had the chance to take some instant film this weekend with my Polaroid Super Shot. Me and Victor went to play tennis at a court about 25minutes from our house by bike and we discovered this really cool wall structure a few blocks away. Victor found a plaque talking about how it was the site of an old factory so instead of destroying it completely they left the walls up and built a structure out of metal to stabilize both sides. The building in its original form must have been huge. I love that Montreal does try to preserve its history, even if it’s just the walls.

spring polaroids (5)spring polaroids (7)spring polaroids (3)spring polaroids (10)spring polaroids (1)Tried to capture the moon in the sky but had the light meter on way too dark,  the tiny white dot to the top center is indeed the moon however. Don’t know how the green ripples were created, aliens I guess.

spring polaroids (8)Taking double exposures is always a risk, I’m still in the playing around period of seeing the difference between what works with a Polaroid camera in comparison to what I’m use to on my DSLR (surprising similar it seems). I am also still working on measuring distant by eye as well since I don’t have my measuring counter on the Super Shot like the Polaroid Colorpack has. The above shot is an example of a successful double exposure in my books while below is just a blurry mess.


spring polaroid (11)spring polaroidVictor is still cute even when blurry. I am really glad my new bike basket fits my Polaroid perfectly. Didn’t take many Spring polaroids but have all summer for adventures on the bike with it.

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Double Exposure: Polaroids

double exposure (5) double exposure (2)double exposure (3)double exposure (1)A few double exposure using instant film taken with my Polaroid Colorpack back in February. Ever since I discovered my Polaroid was able to do multiple exposures without any modification I’ve been playing with it ever since. Most of these were taken while randomly walking around Montreal (above) and Toronto (below) to test it out. I’m still trying to see what combinations work really well and right now am waiting for the winter to be over because I am so bored of the snow. My head is filled with so many ideas; instant film is so gratifying like that. I need more practice though since most of these are misses (fun misses but misses none the less). Taking double exposures with instant film is different than what I am use to with a digital camera so I don’t except to really taking anything amazing for the start but I think it’ll be really neat to figure out (too bad the film is very expensive or I’d be practicing every day).  If you know anyone who takes double exposures with Polaroid, let me know as I’m fascinated by them!

 

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Picking Apples Last Year: Polaroids

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Can you see I am continuing my summer obsession with Polaroids? I cannot help it – the randomness of them and the saturation of the Fuji FP-100c is just too good to pass up. Although to be honest I’ve actually had to restock on chemicals for developing at home and all the film I use in vintage cameras is home developed by me so I haven’t been able to do any developing of film since August. I cannot wait to show you coming in some other film from some of my other vintages cameras. I am also hoping to do the battery conversion for my other Polaroid land camera so I can use that guy too (trying to find the double A battery box is turning out harder to find that I suspected). For right now, more shots taken with my Polaroid Colorpack camera with Fuji instant film for Vintage Tuesday. These were taken  when I went apple picking with Victor and my friend Tammy and Dustin lat year. It was a lot of fun and seeing how the shots turned out is really the best part. I took a whole bunch from my last trip picking apples at the same orchard but I left in my friend Zara’s car so those will have to wait another day until I can get those back.

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