Getting Creative with Polaroid Transfers

Simple, artistic processes that do not require tons of equipment

by Kathleen T. Carr

Steps II
Steps II
© Kathleen T. Carr
All Rights Reserved
One of the great things about both the image and emulsion transfer processes is that you don't need a lot of expensive photographic equipment and supplies, or a darkroom. Transfers have been dubbed �kitchen art� because you can do them on your kitchen table. In my own work, I actually use more kitchen implements than photographic ones.
You also don't need to have a background in photography to get started, since the basics you learn are very simple technically. It does help to start with good images (35mm slides for slide printers, or 4x6 prints for the Daylab Copy System), but a wide variety of subjects and images will work beautifully.


Choosing a Method
Many people think that you have to have a Polaroid camera to make Polaroid transfers. There are actually several ways to expose your image onto the Polaroid film. Here's a rundown:

Island Paradise
Island Paradise
© Kathleen T. Carr
All Rights Reserved
Daylab or Vivitar slide printer for 35mm slides (or a Daylab 120 for medium format transparencies); Daylab Copy System for 4x6 regular and 4x5 digital prints; Polaroid camera that takes peel-apart film, or a camera that takes a Polaroid film holder, or Polaroid "back."; or a darkroom enlarger to project the print onto the Polaroid film.

I find that using a slide printer, or the Daylab Copy System for working with prints, is the easiest and most versatile method of creating image and emulsion transfers, especially to start with. The equipment is very affordable, can be set up just about anywhere, and you can make as many versions as you like of a single image from a 35mm slide or 4x6 print. Each transfer is unique, since the Polaroid negative - not your slide or print! - is destroyed in the process.

An added bonus for me in using a slide printer, or the copy system, is that I can draw upon images from my archives of work in 35mm slides and prints, giving me a vast range of subjects from which to work. In fact, when I initially viewed some of my slides, I knew that a straight color print would not adequately communicate my experience when photographing the image.

I have discovered that in many cases, the image or emulsion transfer process (and sometimes both) better convey what I had wanted to express. In addition, as a photographer I'm delighted to create images without having to work in the dark, or always at the computer.


This article has been excerpted from a lesson in Kathleen T. Carr's online course at BetterPhoto.com:
Polaroid Image and Emulsion Transfer




Article by Kathleen T. Carr. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.