After posting a great tutorial from Claire Voelkel earlier this summer, I’ve noticed several people taking her lead and starting to develop their own film at home. Recently, I noticed that photographer Barry Yanowitz was part of this group of self-developing enthusiasts and I reached out to ask him how it’s going so far.
Barry kindly shared his thoughts in this guest blog below, and make sure to check out his growing catalog of self-processed shots for more!
Ever since I’ve become interested in photography I’ve used a digital camera. Recently though, I’ve been inspired by many of my Flickr contacts who’ve been doing amazing work with film. My interest wasn’t to replace digital, but to spark my creativity with a different way of doing things. So about a month ago I got my father’s old Canon AE-1 and shot my first roll of film in… I can’t remember how long. But I didn’t want to just shoot film, I wanted to control the process from end-to-end and that would mean doing my own developing. Was that even possible without a dark room or investing in lots of expensive equipment?
As it turns out, you can develop right in your kitchen sink. For the Love of Brooklyn recently featured an excellent tutorial by Claire Voelkel. That’s where I started.
I have to admit that at first, the process seemed overwhelming. Chemicals have to be mixed at the right temperatures, film needs to be loaded onto reels inside of a changing bag by feel only, and all of the developing steps need to be applied in the correct order for the right amount of time. So before developing my first roll, I bought a cheap roll of film to practice on. I loaded it on to the reels that came with my developing tank, first outside the changing bag so I could see what I was doing, then inside until I was comfortable doing it blind. I also did a test run of the developing steps with water instead of chemicals to make sure I had all the timings down. By the time I developed my film there were no surprises left and it went smoothly.
For me, the most amazing moment came once I finished developing. I finally got to unspool the reel and see the negatives. It actually works! So far I’ve developed four rolls of film and if you’re on the fence about trying it for yourself, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s extremely satisfying.