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Polaroid Unfaded: Everything was Different

By Patrick Gosling Oct 12, 2017

In 1994 everything was different. I was shooting almost 100% of my work on transparency film. With no chance to view what you’d shot prior to processing, it was a tightrope walk of accuracy and confidence. I was a 35mm shooter through-and-through, hardly ever dabbing in the ‘dark’ art of medium or large format. Polaroid PolaPan 35mm was a breakthrough, an opportunity to shoot 35mm positive frames in black and white, with amazing tonal depth and instant results.

I was commissioned to shoot reportage on a beer commercial in Moscow when a friend bought into a Russian brewery and wanted to launch in the UK. We stayed in a rented apartment, one of the austere buildings that provided housing for the widows of Russian Naval Commanders, near Novoslobodskaya Metro station. I have vivid memories of women selling everything from old shoes to kittens outside the Metro stations.

The shoot took place at Moscow State University, the brewery and at the statue of Worker and Kolkhoz Woman. Developing the Polaroid PolaPan was notoriously tricky; you had to be super confident with the machine. The freshly processed film was highly susceptible to scratching, with a really tender, almost foil-like emulsion that occasionally didn’t stay stuck to the film base. I took a risk and decided to wait until I was back in my studio in London to process the rolls.

The shots were unearthed for Polaroid Unfaded. Kept safely in an old folio case, I found the 13 rolls of 36 exposures all in negative files, looking as amazing as the day they were first seen. Thank you, Polaroid for bringing back amazing memories of my trip to Moscow, with a girl who is now my wife, but most of all for the magic of Polaroid PolaPan.