Prior to digital cameras, on commercial photo shoots, Polaroid film was used to produce test shots to verify numerous aspects, from the lighting, to the compostion, to make-up as well as the overall impact of an image.



The days, months, and years eventually reveal, like a Polaroid, a clear picture of how significant events and decisions ultimately shape our lives.

Hoda Kotb

 The Polaroid tests also could be used as a reminder about a days different shots and indicate which rolls of film went with each shot. I usually would have assistants put a Polaroid in a zip-lock bag along with the film exposed for that shot. Often exposure and processing notes could be added to the back of the Polaroid. I used my Blad for Polaroids for years, even when shooting on 35mm film, and in time bought a very expensive Polaroid back for one of my five Canon T-90 backs (I knew Murphy (Murphy’s Law) was watching my every move and felt comfortable with having more spare bodies than was reasonably expected.) The Polaroid back cost more than the camera it was matted with!! I often gave extra Polaroids away to clients or subjects. They could also be handy to put people at ease with what the shot would resemble. I made some clients sign the backs of the Polaroid to confirm they accepted the shot. An irony was that many photographers, including myself,, came to prefer the Polaroid film made by Fuji – often referred to as Fuji-Roids!! Originally it was only available in the US and had to be brought in from New York for many years. The Fuji-Roid colours were more accurate and pleasing, than the Polaroids. It was an irony, where Fuji beat Polaroid at their own game. Of course there were lawsuits and geographic constraints – where the Fuji-roids were originally only supposed to be sold in the Orient, but I believe patents expired and Fuji could sell the product in Canada after some time. When shooting with a 4X5 camera, Polaroids were the insurance that aside from exposure, could also confirm proper focusing.


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