I often wonder about the fascination with polaroids. Some say it the “instantness” of them, but for me after years of film, waiting for it to be developed and then shooting with a big chunky camera that was too big and too heavy to take anywhere but on a shoot, and shooting in raw, which still needs “developing” even though it is digital, I am enjoying the “instantness” of shooting with “baby”, my little canon that gives me the flexibility of shooting everything in both raw and jpeg and is small enough to keep chucked in my handbag at all times- that’s instant.
No, a polaroids magic lies in its alchemy. When I was first starting out in photography, I loved playing with the chemistry of the medium- cross processing, polaroid transfers and lifts, fresson prints, gum-bichromate, solarising type 55 in homage to Manray, pulling of feats of chemical magic that allowed room for accidents- a window for magic to sneak into an otherwise technical art form. Playing with polaroid again brings back that element of magic, using film which is beyond its used by date and has warped in sometimes unpredictable ways, using cameras that are old and flawed. It reminds me of the days when despite how careful and experienced you were, there was always doubt about what lay on the film until it came out of the darkroom or back from the lab. Watching an image slowly appear on a piece of polaroid film is a bit like that- waiting to see what sort of magic is there.