Integral Film – One Woman’s Impossible Obsession

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Breakfast at Broder in Portland, OR - Polaorid Photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Spectra + Expired Polaroid Image Film, by Briana Morrison

As my college career came to a close I noticed my love for photography starting to fade.  Art school seemed to have squeezed me dry so I started to look for new ways to create beautiful images.

I first fell in love with Polaroid–integral film–photography in 2008 but I didn’t know much about it.  I found images I liked but didn’t know what sort of cameras produced them.  I started out with a new Polaroid 600 camera, and though it was fun, I noticed that my photographs didn’t have the same qualities as the ones I really admired by other photographers.  After a little more research I discovered the Polaroid Sx70, the very first integral film camera complete with a manual focus, shallow depth of field, and a wonderful lack of glaring flash.

From that point on, instant photography and I have been inseparable.

Polaroid portrait of Leah Morris by Briana Morrison

Sadly, shortly after my newly discovered passion for instant photography, Polaroid announced they would no longer be making instant film.  I rushed to the store hoping to pick up a few last packs but I was too late… they were gone.  I knew this couldn’t be the end for me and my Sx70 so I started searching for a solution.  That’s when I came across The Impossible Project and my heart lifted, just a little, to know that someone was desperately trying to save integral film photography, impossible as the task may seem.

Jaime de Fna, the main square in Marrakech, Morocco. Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

The Impossible Project released their first film edition in March 2010.  It was the day after I arrived in London–my very first time in Europe–and I was anxious to find a computer with Internet access so I could order my first few packs of their untried film.  When I came home and loaded my camera with the new film, it didn’t take me long to realize the learning curve was steep.  I kept at it and was able to make some beautiful photographs from nearly every film edition they’ve produced since.

Polaroid boudoir portrait by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Color Protection Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

Today The Impossible Project is producing some beautiful films that don’t take quite as long to get the hang of.  Their color film is gorgeous and I love that the emulsion resembles an old painting when scanned and enlarged.  Whether you’re new to using Impossible film or a seasoned veteran, you will find yourself awed by the beautiful photographs this medium helps to create.  It is like no other, and though people may try, the effect of integral film’s emulsion can not be duplicated digitally.

Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Color Protection Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

So if you are ready to go out and try your hand at instant photography, I suggest picking up a couple packs of Impossible Project film, grabbing your camera of choice, and photographing with an open mind.  Integral film photography has its own sort of magic, one that cannot be wholly controlled, but will surprise you with beautiful results.

Cat on a rug in Essaouira, Morocco. Polaroid photograph by Briana Morrison

Polaroid Sx70 + PX70 Impossible Project Film, by Briana Morrison

Briana Morrison is a former employee of Blue Moon Camera & Machine.  Based in Portland, she spends her time photographing alternative weddings, fine art boudoir sessions, and documenting her travel adventures on film.  You can find more of her words and photographs on her website BrianaMorrison.com.

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