Polaroid Image Transfers

Polaroid Image Transfer
Polaroid Image Transfer © Paul Haberstroh

Polaroid Image Transfers, also known as photo emulsion lifts, are the process of creating an image from 35mm slide film to Polaroid or Fuji instant film and then onto watercolor paper. This was another photographic art form that I used to offer something unique to my clients, especially for weddings. I always shot a roll or two of slide film at a wedding for this very purpose. One custom wedding album I made was entirely Polaroid Image Transfers.

Using a Daylab enlarger, the image from a 35mm slide is projected onto instant, peel apart film. After exposing the film, the part with the gooey emulsion that is usually thrown away is placed on water color paper that has been soaking in a mixture of  warm water with vinegar. The emulsion side is then rolled onto the paper for a while and then carefully peeled off. If all goes well, you are rewarded with a very artistic, one of a kind image. While Polaroid no longer makes the film for this eponymous process, Fuji still makes instant film that will work for this process. Original Daylab enlargers and  can be purchased on eBay.

The process required patience and specific conditions. The temperature of the water and mixture of vinegar, the type of watercolor paper ( I used Arches), the room temperature, and the exposure time of the slide, were all factors in the resulting image. Sometimes I was lucky the first try, sometimes I went through an entire pack of Polaroid instant film to get the perfect image. Here is a link to my gallery of Polaroid Image Transfers.

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