Updated date:

How to Print Polaroid Photos Without a Polaroid Camera & Make a Heart Collage or Montage in Two Easy Steps

Polaroid effect and frame on a regular digital photo.

Polaroid effect and frame on a regular digital photo.

Polaroid heart college over bed serving as head board.

Polaroid heart college over bed serving as head board.

Where did the Polaroid heart craze begin?

Apparently, the photo that started it all originated from an article in Cookie, a Condé Nast lifestyle magazine for modern women. The magazine featured "an editorial mix of fashion, home décor, travel, entertainment and health for her and her family." Unfortunately, Condé Nast cancelled Cookie in October 2009.

The particular article featured a house tour of the De Andreis family's home in Paris, France.

See this blog post for a few more pictures of the rest of the home. http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ohdeedoh/artwork/polaroid-heart-049737

What are the dimensions of a Polaroid picture?

The size of a Polaroid picture including the frame depends on the film and camera used.

I used these pages to settle on 4 x 5 inches as a suitable size for printing.


Lists sizes and models for all types of film and cameras.


The quick and dirty answer.

Fotoclips in action

Fotoclips and thumbtacks holding up a photo.

Fotoclips and thumbtacks holding up a photo.

Get the Polaroid Effect Without the Camera in Two Easy Steps

Ever since I saw this picture of a Polaroid heart collage floating around the internet, I was obsessed with creating the same effect in my apartment.

The problem was: I didn't have a Polaroid camera and didn't want to buy one. I didn't want to carry a Polaroid camera plus my digital camera everywhere I went. I didn't want to think before taking a picture: Is this worth a Polaroid? I wanted the convenience of having all my pictures in a digital format.

I never bought the camera, but I have recreated my own Polaroid heart collage in my bedroom.

Step One: Download Polaroid Image Maker

First, you need to download the Polaroid Image Maker program at http://www.poladroid.net/. It's free!

The program is really cute in itself. You drag and drop the picture you want the Polaroid effect on. Then you have to wait for the Polaroid to "develop." You can only develop 10 pictures at a time because that's how much film a real Polaroid can take at a time. If you want to develop more, you have to restart the program, but it's not a big deal.

If your picture is larger than a square, the program auto-crops to fit the subject of the photo within the Polaroid frame. If your subject is off to the side in the original photo, then you may have to crop the photo yourself, and then try again with Polaroid Image Maker to center the subject within the frame.

The program also has an option for adding an aging effect. If you select the option, it ends up putting "dirty finger prints" along the frame or on the edges of the picture. You can fiddle with the option and see for yourself whether you like it or not.

All in all, the program is very painless and fun to use. My favorite part is arranging the 10 pictures on my desktop and watching them all develop. The program chimes when the photo is finished. You can specify a file for the program to auto-save the completed picture in.

Step Two: Use Mpix.com to Print

Once you're done selecting and developing your Polaroids, it's time for printing!

When I was figuring this out on my own, I found it was kind of difficult to sort through what size an original Polaroid picture was. It depended on the film and the camera. I did some research online and came to the conclusion that some photos were 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches and some were 4 x 5 inches.

I did some more research to find what photo service would develop photos at those sizes. Apparently, not many do. In the end, I chose http://www.mpix.com/.

I use their option for 19 cent 4 x 5 prints. It's their cheapest, no frills printing. They come out on Kodak Professional Paper and look great. Mpix already does a really good job with professional prints, and you get that same kind of quality with these little DIY Polaroids.

You can always print a few first to see how you like them, and then order more prints later. I'm positive that you'll be happy with the results. When mine came in the mail, I could hardly wait to hang them up.

Options for hanging

Painter's Tape

For getting the photos on the wall, I recommend getting some Scotch blue painters tape.

It's low adhesive, which means it's not super sticky. You can attach it to the back of your photos and later remove the tape without ruining the photo or the wall. It's great if you make a mistake or want to move the photo around later on.

Just rip off about a 3 inch piece and make it into a loop. Put it on the back of the photo and stick it to the wall. Voila!


Fotoclips are another great way to get photos up on the wall. They work by clipping onto either side of the photo, and then the clip itself is attached to the wall with a thumbtack or nail.

They're not as good as painter's tape because the clips can slightly crimp the photos. You also have to make small holes in your wall, so keep that in mind if you're in an apartment and that could be an issue.

Also, if you plan on moving the photos later, the leftover holes in the wall may be unsightly. They can also be expensive if you plan on displaying a lot of photos.

Regardless, fotoclips do make it easier to line up your photos on the wall without much hassle.


Overall, I hope this how-to has been helpful and that you will now go out and print your own Polaroid pictures without the Polaroid camera.

For more inspiration, check out these other Polaroid wall collages. Let your imagination go wild!

Need Inspiration? More Polaroid Photo Collages

Rainbow gradient Polaroid photo collage serves as a great view over a desk or shelf.

Rainbow gradient Polaroid photo collage serves as a great view over a desk or shelf.

Polaroid photo collage over an entire wall in a room.

Polaroid photo collage over an entire wall in a room.

Polaroid photo collage over mantel in eclectic living room.

Polaroid photo collage over mantel in eclectic living room.

What do you think?


Becca on June 26, 2016:

I am so happy to have found this article again! I originally used these steps about 2 years ago to create 75 polaroid pictures that have been hanging in my room. Now that I'm headed off to college this fall, I figured it was time for some updated polaroids!

These turn out genuinely adorable and so professional in real life, I promise that anyone who tries this will NOT be dissapointed!

Valerie on June 19, 2016:

Hello there. This article was a big help but I just want to ask where did you get the paper and how much did it cost?

Hossein on February 03, 2015:

Thank you so much, for the past few days i've been trying to create Polaroids with Photoshop, and finding out a good reasolotion.

it just made it alot easier.

Cindy on July 03, 2014:

hi is it 4x5 or 4x6

Kiwi Rio (author) from New York, NY on March 18, 2013:

I just checked it out. Very interesting!

Kiwi Rio (author) from New York, NY on March 18, 2013:

Sounds great, glad you enjoyed it!

totem7 on December 28, 2012:

Nice article. I found a site online that might be useful to this topic where you can for free create and buy a real Polaroid with the Polaroid classic border and they come on genuine Polaroid 3-inch by 4-inch professional paper with free shipping anywhere in the U.S. for $0.50 each at http://www.bitmap.us/ . I am a regular user of the site and I though this might be useful for someone out there.

sheilanacalifa@gmail.com on October 23, 2012:

I did the collage for my daughter's room..love the results ! Thanks a bunch , great post !

Kiwi Rio (author) from New York, NY on September 29, 2012:

glad you enjoyed it!

Katie on June 24, 2012:

Thanks so much for the article!

Kiwi Rio (author) from New York, NY on January 08, 2012:

David, I think people still do that! You should check out http://www.the-impossible-project.com/

They're still making film that can be used in polaroid cameras.

David Legg 7 from Trout Paradise, Colorado on January 08, 2012:

Nice article. I was intrigued, because We used to do something with polaroids in the darkroom by hand to create some partially completed pictures by spreading the developer with a rubber roller. I thought someone had stumbled across some old film and was getting back to that kind of craft printing.

This is a cute application. Thank you for sharing.


lady rain from Australia on January 08, 2012:

I have seen picture collages like this in student houses. An interesting hub. Voted up!

Related Articles