Polaroid 6, “Iggy”, Bangkok

The 6th image from #apolaroidaday is of “Iggy” a taxi driver from Bangkok.

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This image has a big significance for me as it was the one which persuaded me to apply chemical alterations directly to the large format negatives of my personal project ‘Yantra: The Sacred Ink’ – I had first met Goh at Wat Bang Phra tattoo festival a year earlier and photographed him there with a 6×6 camera against a white wall. His wiry build and Iggy Pop-like natural cool, along with very shinny eyes made him a very striking sitter. I got his details to arrange a portrait session at his home on the outskirts of Bangkok.

It was over a year before we finally did the shoot, and “Iggy” was the first sitter for my series of large format portraits. I had my large format field camera with me (Toyo AII) large format film and one sheet of the legendary “pos-neg” (positive negative) Polaroid Type 55 PN film. This film, along with its smaller pack film counterpart Polaroid 665, were the only instant films to produce a reusable negative. They were by then already discontinued, prices on ebay were skyrocketing, and this last sheet was actually 17 years out of date! I did not expect much from this last sheet, I had no negative tank with me so I chose to process the film later at home leaving the envelope in the Polaroid back. When I processed the Polaroid back at home, I could see a slightly veiled negative with chemical marks on it, “oh well never-mind then I thought”, let it dry and moved on to other things, thinking the large format negatives I left at the lab will have the image I want on one of them. The next day I scanned the Polaroid negative out of curiosity and absolutely loved the result, a scarred negative, reminiscent of the permanent marks on his body. The dilemma: how to achieve this result in some sort of controlled manner? Getting Polaroid 55 from Ebay was out of the question because of the price and besides, this sheet was 17 years out of date, so this was a random chance result. After much experimentation in the darkroom and some ruined negatives, I was finally satisfied with the result, and while it was not really the same as the image of Iggy, it was what I was looking for. I have stayed in touch with “Iggy” and ended up shooting two short films with him.

Photographed in 2009 – 30×40″ Edition of 10 Ⓒ Cedric Arnold