Sharing Film with Friends

I’ve never had much love for social media. Mostly, I regard it as a semi-necessary evil, and it’s likely that I spend far less time exposed to it than the average account holder. However, in fairness, social media does have its constructive uses, and there have indeed been some bright spots during my time online; most notably, finding new friends with similar passions.

It was about six or so years ago that I started meeting many talented photographers who still shoot with 35mm film. And going beyond conventional photography, I was introduced to a variety of experimental techniques, and to the community of photographers who engage in international film swapping, sometimes referred to as “one film, two cameras”—shoot a roll, rewind it to the beginning, then mail the roll to a faraway friend who shoots the second pass. (For the team approach to double exposures, please remember to rewind carefully and leave the leader protruding so your friend can load the film. Also, don’t forget to reduce your ISO setting by 50% so each of you are providing half of the light needed for a proper exposure.)

A good deal of the fun comes from the fact that the final results are left to blind luck; we don’t coordinate our shooting locations or subject matter ahead of time. Sure, some frames don’t amount to much, but many others yield wonderful surprises. My favorite collaboration partner in this pursuit is Australian photographer John Baxter Weekes. The photo above and the next two below, we shot on Adox Silvermax 100 film…

The next three frames come from a shared roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film…

These three were captured on Kodak Tri-X film…

Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to limit yourself to double exposures. Here are a few frames from our quadruple exposure exercise; each of us shooting two passes on this roll of Fuji Velvia film…

A sample from our roll of Rollei Ortho 25 film…

Another film swap friend of mine is Walter von Aachen of Germany. Walter has a fondness for shooting with lesser-known 35mm films; here’s an image we created on Rollei Redbird 400, a redscale color negative film…

But there’s more to Walter’s work than double exposures. The mad scientist in him loves playing with “souped” films, where rolls of unexposed film are soaked in various beverages and other liquids, then slowly dried over several weeks at very low heat. As you can imagine, many labs don’t want to process film that has been treated in this way, so Walter does his own developing. Below are two frames that I shot on a roll of his color film (Kodak Gold 200, as I recall) that was pre-treated with vodka…

And these three shots were captured with Walter’s famous “Kaffee Kodak” coffee-soaked film…

If you’d like to participate in this sort of thing, check your favorite social media platform for tags related to souped films and film swapping. Enjoy!