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Should You Shoot Film?

That's a very tricky question to answer honestly. Film is magical yet very comprehensive in terms of what you need to get a final image. The best I can do is talk from my experience.

I decided December of 2020 to devote all of my personal work for 2021 to be on film. That's a massive commitment but I loved the look and honestly needed something to reignite my passion in photography. It had become a job and means of making some side money rather than an art and that did not sit right with me.

It is now late February as of writing this, and I have stuck with that commitment and have no regrets. BUT I do find myself buying more and more equipment to make the process easier every week. I love this new hobby of mine, but I can understand how some people would turn away from the idea of shooting, developing, scanning, and archiving their own film. It's a full project to be sure.

However, it is significantly cheaper and better quality than taking your work to Walgreens. Every 24-exposure roll is 15 bucks and you get some 4x6 prints and a CD.

A CD. Who even has a laptop with a CD reader anymore?

With CineStill's CS-41 development kit I can expose 24 (most likely closer to 30) rolls of film for $45. All of the development equipment I have is close to maybe $200 total in investment while 24 rolls through Walgreens would be over $400. Seems pretty cost-effective to me. At least, since I committed a whole year to shooting film, it makes sense.

If you do not want to shoot very often but still want your negatives back and good quality prints, then I recommend using a legitimate film development lab such as The Darkroom, Indie Film Lab, Richard Photo Lab, The Photo Place Inc., North Coast Photographic Services, Old School Photo Lab, MPIX, and SF Photoworks. These are all mail-in labs and most of them offer premium printing services as well so look 'em up and pick the one closest to you or the one with the most relevant offerings to you.

At the end of this post I will link all of the equipment I purchased and where I purchased it from (mainly Amazon) for those who want to dive into the magical world of film development. The last concern I hear from a lot of people is how to dispose of the development chemicals. I looked up the nearest Household Waste Disposal Center and will take my chemicals there to be disposed of safely as color film chemicals are generally more toxic than black and white film chemicals.

To summarize some of the main points in this post, develop your own film or send your rolls off to a lab if you plan to do this somewhat regularly. Mail-in labs are great if you want to shoot film but simply don't have the time to develop the negatives. It's a wonderful process that has reignited my passion in photography as an art form, and has really helped me to understand my shooting style in a more intuitive and comprehensive way. I will make another post in the future once I find out how to really articulate what I mean by that, but in the mean time get out there and make something!

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