Photographer Uses Emulsion layer of the Polaroid to Create Unique Compositions


One camera whose concept was way ahead of its time is undoubtedly the Polaroid. It is an idea that to this day holds-up in relevance, despite many decades since its inception and even though we are well-entrenched in the digital era.  The simplicity and genius of the instant print will perhaps never become obsolete. There is after all no substitute for holding an actual image in your hands. Germany-based photographer and art director Tanja Deuss explores the many ways to skin this mother of all instant cameras, using a Polaroid SX-70 for the images in her series called, Abheben.

polaroid emulsion

Deuss adds more analogue effects to her Polaroid shots by using some deliberate emulsion lifts. By doing so she creates unique compositions where the organic materials of the instant prints, complete with their trademark square shape and irregular borders are purposely distressed. By doing so, the imperfections become as integral to the final product as the recorded image.

emulsion lift


To make each unique piece, Deuss starts off by shooting regular landscapes and everyday objects as the focal point of her compositions. The moment the images appear on the Polaroid paper, she tears them apart and uses the emulsion layer of the Polaroid to transfer images onto handmade paper.

Tanja Deuss


What she comes-up with are two similar, and yet distinct variations of the same event. Intentional distress created on the paper through tears, as well as the small format and other imperfections add some kind of picture patina, coaxing viewers to look closer, investigating every facet of the photographs.

Tanja Deuss polaroid emulsion

emulsion lift Tanja Deuss =

You can view the results of Deuss’ emulsion work to get an idea of the results here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.