top of page

The inevitable, but often beautiful: Damaged Film.

Pond, Mason OH

As anyone who has shot film for a period time knows, sometimes things go wrong. Maybe you had a light leak, maybe you forgot to change the ISO from your last roll, maybe you didn't develop the right way, or mishandled your film when loading it. Eventually all of us are going to feel our hearts sink as we se that photos didn't come out right, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

For the first 50 rolls of film I developed at home, I didn't have a single issue. The exposure was always pretty close to perfect, and aside from getting the focus wrong here and there, almost all of my shots came out great. I got cocky, I figured that anyone that had a bad roll was simply either bad at developing or loaded their film the incorrectly. But then, I had my first roll of, "What did I do wrong??"

Laura, Mason OH

I was particularly excited about this roll. I knew I captured some images that were going to make me feel great, that I could be proud of. But when I pulled the reel out of my Paterson tank to dry, I felt like someone sucker punched me in the face. I followed the developing steps perfectly, I made sure the light meter was green, I had the right ISO...what did I do wrong? I don't know. For a few days I was pretty bummed about it, until I went back and revisited some of those shots.

Something about being emotionally detached from your images can give you more of a clarity. When I wrote off my roll of film, I was able to go back and look at them without disappointment and see them for what they were, not for what I wanted them to be.

Christian, Columbus OH

Not all my shots came out as bad as others. Some where simply lacking detail and over exposed while others were a complete disaster. After a while it began to feel like my roll of damaged film was simply randomly edited with different filters, and there was something beautiful about that. I couldn't go back and change what went wrong, and I'm still not really sure what happened, but I'm able to accept that it is what it is, and maybe that's some sort of life lesson taught by film? Here are some more photos from that roll.

Trees, Indianapolis IN

Steeple, Loveland OH

Geese, Mason OH

Laura and Katie, Indianapolis IN

Maybe "damaged" isn't the right term for this. The photos aren't all damaged, they just didn't produce the way I wanted them to. I think I'll keep calling it "damaged" for now, though. I actually like a few of these shots, even though they aren't what I hoped they would be. Unfortunately, I was only able to save 10 or so shots from this roll, the others are swirls of light and unrecognizable blobs. In the future, perhaps I'll have another damaged roll that I fall in love with. Hopefully it's not shots of anything important.

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page