Once upon a time, there was a little camera called a Polaroid. Most of us had one at some time or another, with film packs that you pop in and easily snap pictures and have them develop before your eyes. Now you can buy Polaroid cameras that have evolved in the digital age on Amazon.com and elsewhere. You can also buy a version which uses actual film.
The reason I’m writing this post is because one of our fellow WordPress bloggers, Paris Illustre, is a photographer and I was telling her about a book I bought back in the 1990’s, which explained how to manipulate polaroid prints.
Back when folks were using the original Polaroid cameras, some artsy people figured out how to manipulate the print before the inks had dried. Back in the 1990’s, while on vacation at Seaside, Florida, I came upon a book called Painterly Photography: Awakening the Artist Within, by Elizabeth Murray. Elizabeth is a photographer who also worked at Monet’s Garden in Giverny for a year in 1985. The photos in this book were taken while she was in France and some of them are from Monet’s Garden. She displays her manipulated photos in the book and also explains how the technique is done so that the reader can try it. She would take a photo with the camera and then take the print as soon as it came out of the camera. Keeping it warm, she would take a burnishing tool of some kind (popsicle sticks, toothpicks, pencils, chopsticks, etc.) and she would manipulate the scene in the picture with swirls, smudges, lines, etc. Many of the prints look like oil paintings. The old Polaroid film would take longer to dry and was easier to manipulate.
While Polaroid cameras are still being produced, electronically or with film, the film today is not the same as when the book was published and it is not so easily manipulated. One note I found said you had to work faster before the ink dried and press harder with your stylus. It’s certainly worth experimenting if anyone is interested.
When I visited Seaside, Florida in the 1990’s I was able to purchase two manipulated pieces and I still have them. I keep them in a more dimly lit room and they still look as good as new. These two prints were done by an artist, Charlotte Arnold. A pretty little detail she added was touches of gold & acrylic paint to make the print sparkle.
I found another book, Polaroid Manipulation, by Kathleen Thormod Carr, published in 2002, in which also describes the technique. Used copies are still available at Amazon.com.
Moving into the digital age, I found a Kindle e-book, Escape from the Darkroom: Old School Principles Applied to Modern Day Photography by Brian Wilkes. Many of these manipulation techniques can now be done digitally through your digital photo programs.
Below are two photos showing the modern techniques of photo manipulation.