Our Process

1. Send Us Your Film

The process begins with you! Learn how to safely ship your film to us.

2. Your Film Arrives

Your film has made it to the lab safe and sound, woohoo! Now that your film is here, we’ll send you a confirmation email with an invoice.

While writing up your order, we’ll look at your order form to make sure all your film arrived and is processed correctly. Order forms tell us:

  • How many rolls do you have?
  • C-41 Color or B+W.
  • Scanner choice and size:
    • Normal Scans for printing up to 20×24”
    • Large Scans for printing beyond 20×24”
  • How you want your film negatives returned.
  • If you want proof prints.
  • Order name.
  • Special instructions.

*Pro tip: When shooting Ilford Delta3200, be sure to tell us what you rated it at and how you would like it developed.

3. Developing

Now it’s time to turn your exposed film into beautiful negatives! Here is a quick breakdown of the chemical reactions that happen in the darkroom:

C-41 Color Film

  • Developer: The first and most important chemical in the developing process is the Developer itself. Developer is the chemical that forms the image, turning your exposed film into a negative.
    • How does it work? "During the development step of C-41 [color] film processing, an oxidized developer reacts to the color layers of the film emulsion to result in the formation of dyes while the silver halides are concurrently being transformed to silver metal." ("Film Processing" by FUJIFILM)
  • Bleach: After developer, your film enters a bleach solution that is used to convert the developed silver image into silver halides. This prepares the silver to be soluble in the fixer.
  • Rinse: A quick wash through water removes any excess bleach.
  • Fixer: Removes all the inactivated silver particles so your film is no longer sensitive to light.
  • Final Rinse: A quick wash in water clears your film of any remaining compounds.
  • Dryer: Film is dried.

Black + White Film

  • Developer: Like with C-41 color, the first step in the B+W developing process is the developer. Developer is the chemical that forms the image, turning your exposed film into a negative.
    • How does it work? During the development of B+W, the developer reacts "with the film's emulsion, light-sensitive crystals, converting them to black, metallic silver. The greater the exposure, the denser the concentration of developed silver." (Black & White Photography: A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein)
  • Stop Bath: Developer continues to develop film until it is neutralized. This is where Stop Bath comes in. It is just as important to stop the chemical reaction of the developer as it is to start it!
  • Fixer: Removes all the inactivated silver particles, so your film is no longer sensitive to light.
  • Rinse: A quick wash through the water.
  • Hypo Clear: Now that your film has been developed and its final images are preserved, any leftover chemical residue is removed.
  • Rinse: A quick wash through water.
  • Photo Flo: A wetting agent that helps protect your film as it enters the dryer, reducing spots, watermarks and drips.
  • Dryer: Your film is dried.

4. Push / Pull Processing

Push/pull processing refers to the amount of time film is in the developer to compensate for either under- or overexposure. Learn more here!

5. Exposure Reference Sheets

Exposure reference sheet guide.

Exposure Reference Sheets are made right after your film is developed and are designed to close the gap between your exposures and your scans. They are the ultimate tool when it comes to studying your exposures! You can find them alongside your scans in your order’s Box.com folder. Learn how to read your Exposure Reference Sheets here.

6. Scanning

Your film has been developed into beautiful negatives that are now ready to be scanned into digital files! This is where we apply your artistic vision by hand, frame by frame.

We have a fleet of Frontier SP3000s and Noritsu S-1800s ready to rock 'n' roll. Although these scanners have some differences, the workflow is very similar.

Your film is loaded roll-by-roll into the scanner. Beneath your film is a lightbox that projects the right amount of light and color (determined by an expert color technician) through your negative to be read by the scanner’s sensor above. This process creates a digital scan.

But how do we make sure the right amount of light and the correct color combinations are made for each frame? Preference images! Preference images are 3–5 frames that best represent your style in terms of color, density and contrast.

Submit or update your preference images.

*Pro Tip: If you number your rolls, they will be scanned chronologically, leading to more consistent scans that arrive pre-organized!

7. Color Check

Now that your film has been scanned, each and every frame is sent through Color Check. Color Check is where we make small adjustments to the coloring and density of your scans. This step helps your scans stay consistent from one frame to the next and allows us to get even closer to your vision.

8. Final Check

Your film has made it to the final stage before we upload your scans—Final Check! In Final Check, we take one last look through each and every frame, looking for any red flags in your film or from your camera, such as scratches, light leaks, water damage, base fog and more. This allows us to spot any issues you might be having with your film or camera so we can let you know right away!

9. Happy Scan Day!

After Final Check, it's time for your beautiful scans to be uploaded to Box.com, a simple, online file sharing system that keeps all your orders organized. When your upload is complete, we'll email you a link to view and download your scans! Woot-woot! Learn how to use Box.com here.

10. Printing

If you ordered proof prints (psst—we recommend everyone does this!), your scans are sent to our printer immediately after upload.

Our prints aren’t your typical prints. Our true, photographic wet process prints pay homage to traditional darkroom printing and come on only the finest premium Fujicolor Crystal Archive Supreme Paper. This isn't your typical photo paper—Fujicolor Crystal Archive Supreme comes with a luscious thickness you have to see (and feel) to believe with rich colors that bring your images to life.

Proof prints are made and shipped 1–2 business days after your scans have been uploaded, meaning you could have prints to your clients the same day they receive their final gallery. Talk about speedy service!

Want to see your scans before your order prints? Not a problem. You can always order prints online here.