You have been warned – but we’re sure the Lab Rat in you won’t mind at all. Manipulating instant photos isn’t limited to drawing mustaches and horns with your markers – a little cutting and spraying will also give you jawdropping effects!

When I was first made aware that there was a (semi) replacement for the love of my life, Polaroid, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this possible savior of integral instant film to experiment with. Finally, after the Fuji Instax cameras and film became widely available in the states this year, I have had my first round or two of trial and (a lot of) error with this very odd, black-goo-insides mystery film. Egad! What a mess this stuff is (I kept a trash bag around for the refuse and worked in a sink, with a lot of paper towels around) – though as it went, I did get a lot better at keeping the goo off of my fingers. I still prefer Polaroid for cutting apart and playing with, but c’est la vie, this stuff can be interesting in its own right…

My first attempt at manipulation started immediately after taking the shot: I cut off the three sides other than the developer side (having crappy, beat up scissors is a plus), peeled the plastic front from its backing (this is a bit of the messy part), removed the developer pack, and placed the opened “image” face down on a moist, almost dry paper towel. I then put the two halves back together, rubbing lightly all over, and cut off the last side (saving one side until you’re done futzing around just makes it easier to put the two pieces back together again – it certainly isn’t necessary other than to keep things straight, but then again, maybe it shouldn’t be straight…). Bing, instant texture! But it wasn’t really what I was looking for, so…

Next I tried what has always worked well with Polaroids, and that is to roughly spray/dribble/splatter the opened insides with, in this case, Windex. I like the way Windex sprays on with bubbles when I barely squeeze the trigger, plus it can be a bit sloppy, but really, I think any fluid, any way you can apply it, will work. From what I can tell from the Instax film so far, the places that are wet from the splatters actually helps keep the texture down when the halves (of which both are covered in the black goo) are reunited again. One of the most important things I learned – the hard way of course – is that you have to rub down fairly well the main areas of your image, otherwise the blackness of the unburnished texture will slowly take over anything that you held dear. I had a couple of shots I was really happy with, but then watched in horror as the texture got darker and darker until most of the image had been devoured by it. Lesson learned. From there I started rubbing the images down (using a wadded up paper towel) with what you might call a “gradient” rubbing style – firmly on the main image while slowly using a lighter touch as I went outside of the image, creating a textured vignette. It is recommended that you work on some newspaper, paper towels or something because, again, this stuff is a bit of a mess.

In reality all of this is harder to explain than to do, it really is just: take the picture, cut, spray (or… fill in the blank), re-fold, cut, rub, go to the next shot. Fun.

One other thing I tried but haven’t followed up on is scratching around on the black goo (there is a yellowish photo of my noggin where I did some real quick arbitrary squiggles). You can try anything as an instrument of creative destruction: a pin, fork, comb, fingernails, chopsticks, knitting needles, whisk, pasta or any other what-have-yous that are handy – just some ideas…

written by merge on 2009-08-26 #gear #tutorials #fun #instax #tips #experiment #labrats #tipster #manipulation #spray #fuji #cut-apart #peel #black-goo #emulsion-messin


  1. dogma
    dogma ·

    This is simply fantastic!!!

  2. plyshbel
    plyshbel ·

    Terribly attractive!

  3. larslau
    larslau ·

    Fantastic guide!!! This is the best thing I've read on Lomography since... Well, ever. Good work!

  4. cinzinc
    cinzinc ·

    cool eerie gallery! and nice tip!

  5. -kosmonavt-
    -kosmonavt- ·

    great tip! this is so cool!

  6. stouf
    stouf ·

    Genius ! Thanks for all the details, that's very generous of you... And the results are pure pieces of art ! Bravo !

  7. mandi
    mandi ·

    wwwooooow. what a labrat!

    this is so cool... i think i will try instax again :)

  8. miriel
    miriel ·


  9. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    psycho effect - LOVE IT!

  10. disdis
    disdis ·


  11. jeepercreeper
    jeepercreeper ·

    great photos... the orange guy composition has a large member. ;)

  12. anarchy
    anarchy ·

    This is soo freaking awesome!! Great job & thanks for the tip!!! I love it =)))))

  13. snoop
    snoop ·

    awesome! i want to see some more collages now ;)

  14. grenoouille
    grenoouille ·

    mad! this is fantastic!

  15. kdstevens
    kdstevens ·

    Great! By the way for you old SX-70 shooters out there, Polaroid is making a new version of the film especially for manipulation. Here's a link: Chances are good this won't be available for much longer. I ordered a pack and dusted off my leather and brushed stainless steel beauty that looks as good as the day I first saw it over 30 years ago. I will post my results. Maybe get a pair of crappy scissors...

  16. grenoouille
    grenoouille ·

    wooohooo!!! I've just tried it!!! That tipster is bloody brilliant!!!! Amazing!! I love it!! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

  17. ethermoon
    ethermoon ·

    can this be done with a fuji instax film??? :p really nice photos here!

  18. jeepeng
    jeepeng ·

    it's like Grindhouse: Planet Terror!!! COOL!!!! i like this very much!!!

  19. trash-gordon-from-outer-space
    trash-gordon-from-outer-space ·

    OMG! These are so creepy. I'm not sure if I got entirely what you've done, but maybe I'll just try it.

  20. holgafot
    holgafot ·

    WOW! WTF! have you done tool videos? This is amazing stuff, too messed up to read details now but seriously impressed with the wierdness .

  21. luobodingr
    luobodingr ·

    mate, some of the best stuff I've seen here in ages. Love it. Would love to try this....

  22. tommynorth
    tommynorth ·

    cool stuff

  23. sideshow_nob
    sideshow_nob ·

    Nice!! Its a messy one! but good fun! il be trying this more often! thanks! =]

  24. cyanwater
    cyanwater ·

    This is great!

  25. chaweemek
    chaweemek ·

    awesome technique!!! i must try this!!

  26. deniscaplang
    deniscaplang ·


  27. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    I wonder if there's a way to do transfers.

  28. pawsinart
    pawsinart · the archaic inkiness! Ever tried any mods on the instants using heat?

  29. gomi11
    gomi11 ·


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