3 Ways to Explore the Joy of Film Photography

Video might have killed the radio star, but digital photography hasn’t killed film. Goliaths like Kodak might have fallen along the way, but the resurgence of analogue photography within the mainstream has begun to pick up steam once again. Like the video store experience compared to online streaming, the patience of shooting on film, the mystique, is lacking with the digital capture process. The patience of photography has been stripped for instant gratification.

The good news is the trend is shifting back towards analogue methods, and people are even opening social media accounts dedicated solely to their analogue pursuits. The nostalgic look of film photos, and the excitement of having them developed, have made them a special and unique alternative to digital photography. Film also requires the photographer to be more intentional with their photo-taking (you’re limited by the number of exposures on your roll of film!), something many see as valuable mindset when learning to take better photos.

Here we walk you through 3 ways to explore analogue photography, whether you’re trying it for the first time, or remembering why you’ve missed it. You might even find some gift ideas here for a budding photographer or film aficionado on your holiday shopping list!

1. The one-time use film camera

For the younger generation, they might not remember the simplicity of the one-time use camera. Prior to digital, it was all about the wonder of the all-in-one point-and-shoot. Those didn’t have the control of a normal film camera, and the lens was never the greatest, however these traits are exactly what made them magical. The uncertainty of what the image would look like added a fun element, but they always got the shot. Stash it in your pocket so it’s there in the moment when you need it. There is a reason they still are used on tables at weddings long after the digital revolution. If you have young kids, these make a good gift, as they are durable and affordable, and are a great way to introduce them to the joy of taking pictures.

2. The positive film camera – ready in minutes

The world of instant cameras grew in popularity in the 70’s, with the Polaroid. When Polaroid stopped producing film in the 2000’s, many hearts were broken. Lucky for us, the brand was saved and resurrected as “Polaroid Originals”. Fujifilm have their Instax camera line that does the same. Polaroid is unique because the whole image surface is your negative. Professionals used to use Polaroid to do light tests before loading film in their cameras. There were even some artists in the late 80’s who worked on specially-made Polaroid film that was in a 1m wide roll! They can’t be enlarged as they are a direct positive print on paper, but that is what makes them that much more unique. Their instant nature also makes them a fun camera to have.

Positive film cameras like the Instax have become hugely popular in recent years. With tons of models and colours to choose from, they’ve made having a film camera fun and trendy for kids and teens especially. Handy mini albums make it easy to share your favourite shots with friends, and Fujifilm regularly releases new and unique instant film themes – from Taylor Swift Edition, to Holiday Bundles (which make great gifts for Christmas!).

The distinctive look of Polaroid and Fujifilm Instax photos has also made them popular as decoration in homes, dorms, schools and workplaces alike. There are also lots of creative DIY’s out there, for ways to display these photos in fun ways – from hanging them with string and pegs, to creating wall displays with many photos arranged together to form shapes like a giant heart. The ways for displaying these photos are endless!

3. The negative film camera

Negative film just means it captures the inverse of the colour – nothing negative. When the print is made from film, it results in the positive appearing on paper. Using film, as we said above, is an experience that digital photography just can’t replicate. Using older analogue cameras can also add some dynamic effects. Accidently (or intentionally) running a film through twice can create some really happy accidents with double exposures. Older models also can develop light leaks with age. These leaks can create beautiful effects in your images that are natural and a surprise.

Photo credit: @lifesetsail

Instagram influencer Brit Savage of @lifesetsail has started to shoot her Instagram snapshots using a negative film camera:

“I’ve always worked with photographers that shoot film but only ever had a digital camera for myself. Earlier this year my parents gifted me their old film camera from the 80’s and I haven’t been able to put it down since! I LOVE the dreamy feel of film and that I don’t overshoot (or at least don’t take a hundred photos of the same thing). I even like that I can’t see my images right away – which means I won’t pick them apart! Having fresh scans arrive to my inbox literally feels like Christmas, every single time!”

Next time you’re at a flea market of thrift store, see if there is an old 35mm camera you can get to play with. You won’t be disappointed.


Digital images meet film nostalgia

If you love the nostalgic look and feel of film photos, but want to apply that to your digital images, you can also try out our LDPhotolab’s new vintage style 4”x5”prints! They mimic the look of old film photos – like the classic Polaroid, scalloped edge prints, old tape prints, and more. You can also choose various finishes, from glossy and pearl, to fine art options. Check them all out here.


Processing your film

Our London Drugs Photolab very much still believes in the power of film photography – that’s why we still offer C41 film processing at all of our Photolab locations. So, if you do decide to pick up a one time use or analogue camera, you’ll know you can always get that 35mm film developed conveniently at your local London Drugs .

The LDPhotolab is photographer Jim Sollows‘ sole source for printing his photos, and he has been bringing in his film for processing for years:

“I love shooting film because I’m intimately involved with every aspect of crafting the image…no automated processes, no computers, no hundreds of images to pick through…each unique image was envisioned, composed, shot and processed entirely by my own hands. I love shooting film and helping others to share the experience.”

Left: Jim Sollow’s photo, taken using his Leica M6. Right: Jim’s photo printed on our Photolab’s bamboo paper. (Photo credit: Jim Sollows @jsollows)

All this to say film is not dead – like vinyl it’s making quite the comeback. The beauty is you can get your film scanned when processing, so you can experience the joy of film, with the usability of digital. With the digital files, you can then use your photos for family calendars, photobooks and more! If you have a young budding photographer in your life, consider introducing them to the joy of film and opening their minds to a world of chemical reactions to light.

5 Services You Might Not Know our Photolab Offers

It probably isn’t surprising to know our Photolab can print photos. After all, we’ve been printing your photos (or your parents’ or your grandparents’) for over 35 years. But with the help of our skilled Photolab technicians, we can do a whole lot more than that. (Please verify turnaround times by calling your local Photolab)

From film processing and scanning, to digital restoration and image inspection, here are 5 services you may not know our Photolab offers:

1. C41 film processing at all locations

If you’ve been shooting on film for a long time now, you’ll have noticed it’s gotten harder and harder to find a photolab to process your film. Many labs no longer offer this service due to the increasing popularity of digital photography. But we wholeheartedly believe that film photography still has a place alongside digital. That’s why we offer C41 film processing at all of our London Drugs Photolab locations, which includes 35mm, 110, 126 and APS. Slide film photographers, don’t worry, we have you covered too. We also offer quality E-6 slide film processing. So bring in your slide film, C41 film, pinhole and disposable cameras, and we’ll help process them all for you!

Of course, we won’t just process your film. We’ll print it too. Choose from glossy or pearl print surfaces, both of which are printed using patented inks and the highest-resolution printing in the industry, resulting in excellent definition in your images and rich colour, no matter the type of film source.

Often, we can process your film in just one hour. For exact turnaround times, contact your local London Drugs Photolab.

2. Film negative and slide scanning

Beyond processing your film and slides, we can also digitize your film for extra peace of mind. We can scan your film negatives and slides, putting them onto a CD, DVD or USB drive for you.

Once the film is digitized, your files can also be uploaded to a London Drugs Photolab account, so that you can print everything from enlargements to creative products using your photos.

3. Image Inspection

Every time you order prints from our Photolab, our dedicated technicians inspect every image and correct as needed. This can include lightening, darkening and even correcting for colour shift. You can rest easy when you bring your photos to us: we guarantee satisfaction on every print.

4. Photo Scanning Box Service

Our newest service makes the process of digitizing your old photos and documents infinitely easier and faster. Order one of our Photo Scanning Boxes, pick it up in-store, and take it home to fill it with up to 800 documents and photos (up to 8.5”x11” in size). Then just bring it back to us in-store, where we’ll digitize everything for you. Once we’re done, all you have to do is pick up your original photos, along with the USB drive we’ve put the digital copies on!

We recommend using this service to preserve your personal photos and documents, to help avoid degradation as well as damage due to accident or disaster.

5. Digital Restoration

If precious photos of yours have been damaged, either due to the passage of time, or because of a flood, fire or other disaster, we may be able to help restore them to their former glory. Our Photolab technicians can digitally edit each individual image to bring back a little colour worn by dust and heat, fill in scratches, or restore parts of an image destroyed by mud and water damage. You’d be amazed at what we’re able to restore!

Once we’ve digitally restored your image, consider making duplicate digital and print copies so that you can avoid damage or loss in the future.


Curious to learn more about one of the services we’ve shared above? Pop into your local London Drugs Photolab and chat with a technician about how we can help with your photos!

World Photo Day: The Evolution of the Camera

Olympus film camera

Photography wouldn’t be possible without the incredible invention of the camera. According to Kodak, “the use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid in 1889. His first camera, which he called the ‘Kodak,’ was first offered for sale in 1888.”

It truly is amazing how much the camera has evolved since then. In came the digital camera, and the debate between film vs. digital began. Today, people appreciate the merits of both, and choose based on their preferred aesthetic.

If you love the nostalgia of film, you’re not alone. Film offers a creative challenge for photographers. Shooting analog photographs is an art form that truly embraces the candid nature of photography. The excitement of having your film photos developed, anxiously awaiting the final images, is a feeling many people love. There is something to be said about the simplicity of shooting with film too; without a Photoshop program to edit with, the result is a much rawer, visceral image. There is also a great deal more thoughtfulness involved in film photography, as you are limited by the amount of film you have. This is one of the reasons why many people recommend starting out on a film camera, even if you want to shoot digital. Being forced to be more selective with your shots will ultimately make you a better photographer, whether you shoot on film or digital.

Meanwhile, if you prefer to shoot digital, there are plenty of benefits that come with the ever-evolving technology of digital cameras. They are more convenient than ever, and are constantly being upgraded with more advanced features. Photographers can choose from point and shoots, DSLRs, and even compact mirrorless cameras, depending on what the situation requires. Today, many digital cameras also come with added features such as WiFi and Bluetooth. This allows you to directly transfer images to your smartphone or tablet, making it super easy to share all of your great moments.

Nikon camera and Nikon lenses

As digital technology has progressed, mobile phones have become the camera of choice for many people who wish to snap and share moments instantaneously. Some of you may remember seeing the #shotoniphone7 campaign, which inspired iPhone users to take incredible photographic shots simply using their phones’ camera. Today, millions of photos are uploaded every minute, allowing us to share our snapshots with the world in seconds, and find inspiration in the talent of other passionate photographers worldwide.

Whichever you prefer, London Drugs proudly offers a large selection of both digital cameras as well as film, and still offers film developing.

If you’re looking to upgrade your current gear, whether it’s a phone, film camera or DSLR, World Photo Day is a great time to see what’s out there and try something new. Our LDExperts can help you choose the right camera for your interests and needs. London Drugs’ selection of photography gear doesn’t end with cameras, either. We also have an extensive collection of lenses, camera accessories, photo printers and photo editing software to help you achieve the best images possible.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay tuned for our World Photo Day deals (including a very special drone offer, available exclusively on August 19th)!