Type 55 Portraits

Soon after joining Modern Photography magazine in 1988 I discovered in a file drawer several boxes of expired Polaroid Type 55 film, a product which delivered an “instant” 4×5 black-and-white negative along with a print. Taking the film to the house studio, I found that it rendered very interesting, slightly decayed images. Unexposed areas of the negative remained unfixed by the expired chemistry and so turned to plated silver when exposed to light. The effects were fragile and unpredictable, but I made a number of interesting portraits and had several of them accepted by the Polaroid corporate collection, an archive that, like the company, was broken up years ago.