Discovering the Magic of Shooting with Expired Film


Since I got on the analogue wagon and started telling my friends about it, something keeps happening: my friends (in some cases their parents) have given me rolls of film they’ve had for years. This has lead to a magical relationship between the moment I’m capturing and myself.

Credits: begutierrez

The first batch of film I got was from a friend’s dad. He gave me a few rolls of Kodak TMax 100 that expired in June 2006. That batch of rolls had been refrigerated. At that point, I had only read about others’ experiences of shooting with expired film, but had never had the opportunity to do so myself. I knew it was going to be for a special project. That’s when I decided to do only portraits with those rolls. Portraits of my friends and family. That project is still going. The film has been just fine, it has lost its sharpness a bit, but I like it. There’s a softness to these portraits that makes them timeless. Here’s a selection of my loved ones, so far:

From the series Expired Love.

Then I got film from another friend. I was visiting her in California and when she saw me shooting film, she dug a few rolls of Kodak Gold 200 out of her closet. These expired in 07/2006. I used some of those rolls during that trip and it yielded beautiful aqua tones. They were not very kind in low light, but the images are still so magical. The top photo was taking in one of these rolls. It really captures the mood of the amazing sunset of that day.

Taken on Kodak Gold 200, expired 07/06.

Then I got 3 rolls of Kodak Ektachrome 100HC from a film swap, those expired in 1994 and 1995! I used two of the Kodak Ektachrome 100HC in California in November 2011. They were the first rolls I used on my LC-A+ BUT I made the mistake of asking my lab to cross processed them for me. And after developing the rolls, they decided the images weren’t good enough to scan for me (gasp!). So they just gave me the film developed. Since I don’t really give up until I’ve tried it all, I’m on the mission of finding my own photo/slide scanner and bringing those images to life with a little help from my friends.. I mean, Photoshop. I’ll report back on this when I have the results. I still have one of those rolls left. I’ll use it in my LC-A+ and develop it on E-6, just to see how it goes.

Because you never know what you will get when using expired film, you have to have a good attitude about it at the moment you take the shot. I wasn’t so heartbroken when I found out about the two rolls that my lab decided not to scan for me. Not because I don’t care about the images, but because while shooting them, I was letting them go and just trying to catch the moment. Knowing that whatever expectations I could create of those images would probably be shattered, so I decided to not expect anything. The images I’ve gotten so far have me happy, and the ones that I didn’t get back will not stop me from more experimentation with expired film.

A random selection from the California rolls.

I’m pretty excited about experimenting with the rest of all the old film I’ve been given. And I hope my friends keep passing around their forgotten film on to me.

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written by begutierrez on 2012-02-07 #lifestyle #experiments #expired #colors #expired-film #kodak


  1. dollymixture
    dollymixture ·

    Brilliant article :)

  2. begutierrez
    begutierrez ·

    Thank you!

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