In early January I had a graduation photoshoot with my long-time friend Konia TC 35mm film camera, by myself, because, why not. (because the person who promised to help take pics for me ghosted me, duh)

It was quite fun, but my brain literally froze in the cold wind so I can’t recall much about the experience. After that, still shivering, I walked to the nearby mall and dropped off my film roll at CVS.

It was a BIG mistake.

First, don’t trust a place that you have no experience with, with things that’s so important to you. Second, if you have to, at least do your research instead of betting it on luck. I personally don’t have a better option locally, there’s no indie photo service or local darkroom in the city anymore, and the last one closed two years ago; so I only have Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS, they all contracted their service to 3rd party companies so I don’t think there’s a difference between the three. I’m a broke college student, I can’t afford to spend 20+ bucks plus the back-and-forth shipping fees to a professional darkroom elsewhere. I should have, though, I really regret that I didn’t.

I told them I wanted to ‘have them developed, and I don’t need them printed out’. The order was ready in about two weeks. They had EVERY picture printed and charged me for that, a total of $17.37. The resolution was pathetic, only ~500kB for each picture and the color balance doesn’t exist, I don’t know what to say. To me, I felt like I had been mistreated, they took my precious pieces-of-art that was waiting to shine and threw them right into the trash, returned me a joke, and charged me 17 bucks for that. They don’t give you the negatives, unless it’s ‘specifically requested’. I didn’t know that, and I wasn’t informed. My heart aches just thinking about my negs getting thrown into the trash or melted and recycled.

So I went to CVS, and the lady at the counter told me “You can’t get a higher resolution with a 35mm film” (totally not true), they got those 500kB files from the 3rd-party company, and burned the CD, so they don’t have better-quality pictures either. I asked her if she could call them and see by any chance they still hold on to the films for some time for the record. This is what happened: she called the local ‘photo center’, and they contacted the company that actually did the job, Fujifilm. I went to CVS on Saturday, and I was told Fuji is closed on Saturday, I should come back on Monday and repeat the whole process, they might or might not still have something there. So let’s see how things go on Monday.

To be continued…

Jan. 26 Update

Turned out there was nothing they can do. People at CVS said they (Fuji, or whoever developed and scanned the film) threw the negs into ‘confidential trash’ or something like that after they were scanned. What CVS did was reorder my pictures printed and there’s no difference from the first time.

This made me even more disappointed, cuz I didn’t want the prints from the beginning, and every time I went there I said I was ‘not quite satisfied with the scan quality’, I don’t know what misunderstanding was there for them to redo the printing. The whole process was just so frustrating to me, I have to go back to CVS many times, and every time there’s a different employee at the photo station I have to repeat my words over and over…and few of them seem to have some basic knowledge of film-photography.

It’s my graduation photoshoot, yup, but that’s not why I’m so mad. I paid my time, I shivered in the cold wind for hours :/

So…yeah, I’ll never trust drugstore film developing service, and keep my 7 or so undeveloped rolls until I find a trustworthy independent lab, or I figure out how to do C-41 myself.