The Joy of Receiving Processed Film Back from the Lab

If you’ve never done film photography before, then you’ve never experienced the excitement that comes from seeing your images for the first time after your film has been processed. After photographing his way around the Great Lakes, photographer Ed Wargin sent his medium format film to the lab for processing:

Waiting for film to come back from the lab is the closest thing to being a kid again, kind of like waiting for Christmas so you can rip open that one special present to see what is inside.

Well, three weeks later and the film has arrived. So I thought I would try to capture a little bit of the experience on video – just for fun. [#]

His resulting short film, titled “The Edit”, gives a taste of the joys of film photography. You can also view the project’s photographs here.

(via ISO 1200)

  • Elias

    The waiting is definitely a big part of the appeal for me. It really is like christmas every time you get a batch back.

  • Nelmindo

    lol, 5 stars. Digital killed that glamour

  • Blueeyedpop

    I shot digital for a year, primarily point n shoot. Wanted to see what I could do. I broke that habit and shot 6×7 and love it. Processing your own film is a joy too.

  • Todd Evans

    I love the experience of getting film back from the lab.  But I also like coming home from a shoot and getting my digital photos off a card, and waiting for prints (from digital) to come back from the lab.  The two experiences are not really all that different.

  • Anonymous

    Three weeks? That wait would kill me. I suppose I’m just getting spoiled with my lab returning my negs in 20 minutes though…

  • Iggy

    I have never liked handling and processing film. However, I have enjoyed printing in my darkroom. What I wish is the opposite workflow: instead of capturing on film, scanning, and processing it digitally I wish I can shoot digital, post process digital, and then print in a darkroom using traditional “wet” process (that is, making silver gelatine prints). The only thing really missing is a digital high-resolution projector/enlarger head for home use. I believe it is technically feasible to manufacture one (perhaps with hi-res LCD or DLP), but such product would probably be prohibitively expensive due to likely (very) limited market.

  • Iggy

    Re to my post:
    I forgot the rule: Google first, post later.
    However, seems to be $20,000+ per unit :-(

  • Anonymous

    I develop my own film, both black and white and colour negative, and for me the big thrill is when I see the negatives for the first time as I hang them up to dry. It’s the moment when I’ve attached a clip to the end, then hung that clip on the line over the bath, and open up the spiral letting the film hang free so I get my first glimpse at what I’ve got.

    Mind you, I wish I had my own darkroom, because I used to love watching a print slowly emerge in the developer tray.

  • Richard Ford

    “Never done film photography”. It is only 2011.  Unless 10 year olds are reading this people the world over know what film is and would have shot plenty of it.  :-S

  • Richard Ford

    My printer here in Sydney uses one.  As does ilfords online print service. Not the same look as a neg wet print but waaaaay nicer than inkjet.

  • Harrison Cronbi

    @AntonyShepherd:disqus – it’s the film drying over the bath for me too:

  • Ed Wargin

    Thanks for sharing my work on The Fresh Coast Project. I have been shooting with film for over 25 years ( I shoot digitally as well ) and IF film does ever go away entirely, it surely will be missed.

  • cavale x

    soooo much bokeh

  • Anonymous

    I wanna see the movie where Ed sends off his film, only to get it back three weeks later pushed +1 by mistake…now THAT would make for some exciting footage!!!

  • Anonymous

    20 minutes? I don’t think thats a lab I would trust my dear negatives to. I mean how is that even possible with most films? Just the processing takes at least ~10 minutes, then comes the washing and drying.. ?

  • Lee Young

    I’m a Malaysian living in Australia. Due to the cost of film processing I always wait until I get back to Kuala Lumpur to process my films. You know the feeling of getting 30 rolls of film back all at once…