The case for not developing your film straight away

For an analog photographer there is probably no better and more exciting feeling than getting film developed and finally seeing the end result of their hard work and/or happy accidents captured on film. It’s easy to get overly excited and impatient to see pictures printed, like a child before Christmas waiting to open its presents. And there is nothing wrong with having your rolls of film developed straight away, sometimes it’s needed due to projects and commissioned work where the photographer needs to stay within a deadline.


But from recent experience putting your full rolls of film away for a while, safely stored somewhere out of reach, and then developed months later, can be equally as satisfying an experience.

I went on a two-week trip to the States last April. My first stop was San Francisco, a city I had already been to before and was already helplessly in love with, and my other stop was Seattle, a city I knew I was going to love due to its close proximity to both mountains and open water and its solid place in music history, giving life to some of my favourite bands. Obviously, I came prepared with shitloads of film and 3 analog cameras. When I came home I had too many full rolls of film in my suitcase and not enough money to develop them all at the same time. On the one hand, I wish I would have had a way of developing some of the films while still on the road (I have a solution for this – WATCH THIS SPACE) on the other hand I am glad I had to put some of the rolls away for a later date.


Yesterday I got 3 developed films back from my trusted photo store (Moorfields Photographic in Liverpool). When I left them at the store I wasn’t entirely sure anymore what was on them or where I shot them, I was fairly certain though it would mostly be photos from my trip to the States, but I am dangerously unorganised when it comes to labelling films and taking notes so I usually just throw my full rolls of film in whatever handbag I’m currently carrying around, without taking notes of what I shot and which camera I used on this film, so it could have been a number of different projects.

When I looked at the pictures I got back yesterday I almost squealed with excitement and joy, simply because I got pictures back I didn’t remember taking and they came out so much better than I expected, probably because I had no clue what to expect. It was like a little surprise, a hidden happy memory my past self left for my present self. The only way to somehow describe this, however insufficiently, is delayed gratification.

You should try it for yourself! And then, by all means, send me a link to the pictures your present self will leave for your future self.



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