The Poor Man's Guide to Photolabs in Small-Town America


Here’s a helpful (and kind of surprising) tip for all Lomographers in small-town America searching for photolabs and cheap, convenient, reliable processing for their 120 film!

Right now, I live in a small Texas town…with a noticeable absence of darkrooms and photolabs. Imagine my sadness when I found I’d have to drive more than an hour to get to the nearest professional photolab to develop my 120 film. If this is a pain you know too well, don’t fear! Calling all Texans and Non-Texans! If you live in a small town, your days of stockpiling huge amounts of film until you’re driving to “the big city” are over!

It may not sound fancy, but here’s a diamond in the rough: your local Wal-Mart, believe it or not! They ship all their film out to a regional Fuji Film lab for processing and the Fuji experts definitely know what they’re doing with any kind of film. The negatives come back in great condition, the prints are clear, but not “too perfect” and the prints come back the right (square) size. Best of all, the processing AND prints only cost about 2 dollars. You can also use their in-store photo scanners to create electronic files of your prints. It’s a convenient one-stop shop and I love surprising fellow small-town Lomographers with this helpful tip!

The only downside is you may have to wait up to two weeks to get your prints back. I still think it’s preferable to planning a road trip every time I want to see my new pictures, though. Plus, I usually get to have fun conversations with the Wal-Mart employees who have never seen medium format films before. (One more helpful piece of advice: write special instructions in the space provided on the film drop-off envelope. I usually write something like “120 film, 1 set of prints for each image.”)

Hope that helps! Have fun, take pictures, and don’t feel limited just because you don’t live in a big city!! Spread the creativity and share your pictures!

written by amor44 on 2010-12-29 #gear #tutorials #tipster #development #120-film #photolabs #prints #film-processing


  1. rav_bunneh
    rav_bunneh ·

    I honestly had no idea at all that Wal-Mart would be a place to drop off 120 film. I might think about getting a 120 camera now.

  2. fash_on
    fash_on ·

    that's great, here in Canada my local wal-mart has a mini lab which is quite expensive and results not so nice :( and only 35mm.
    I'll remember this tip for trips to the US though, since I'm not so far from the border thanks :)

  3. kearz10
    kearz10 ·

    good news for me :) thank you.

  4. shrimpngritz
    shrimpngritz ·

    Has anyone else actually tried this? I want to hear some more opinions.

  5. jfeldman211
    jfeldman211 ·

    If you live in New Hampshire (especially around the seacoast area), visit Photosmith! I typically pay $13 to develop a roll of 120 film, and the staff is SO helpful. I think you could send your undeveloped rolls of film to them via snail-mail, too:

  6. flashback
    flashback ·

    Next they will be selling lomo cameras. Thanks for the tip.

  7. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    Walmart has public photo scanners??! i just returned my Digitaliza scanning masks. i had both the 35mm and 120mm scanning masks ):

  8. amor44
    amor44 ·

    Don't be too sad! Their scanners don't have a backlight, so you can scan prints, but not negatives. I guess that's the limit to Wal-Mart's awesomeness :/

  9. kbechtol1
    kbechtol1 ·

    Thanks you so much! I've been looking for a place since my shop closed! Who knew Walmart was the answer to my problem! Thanks again!

  10. cotyhamilton
    cotyhamilton ·

    i live in a small texas town as well, and i have sent off film from wal mart, and they just sent it back, undeveloped, like they didnt know what it was. haha. this was six months ago, but i guess i'll try it again soon after seeing this.

  11. amor44
    amor44 ·

    Try asking the photolab people if they have their own special instructions for you to write on the envelope. Then, make sure they're sending it out to their Fuji film lab. Good luck, & hope that helps!

  12. prettyflowers
    prettyflowers ·

    Thank you so much for this tip. I live in the SF Bay Area and have been trying to find places that would develop 120 film at a decent price.

  13. prettyflowers
    prettyflowers ·

    Thank you so much for this tip. I live in the SF Bay Area and have been trying to find places that would develop 120 film at a decent price.

  14. amor44
    amor44 ·

    I hope it works out for you!

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