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 taking pics for me ghosted me, huh)

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 myself to the nearby mall and drop-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 you research instead of bet 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, 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 want 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 $17.37. Not only that, the resolution is pathetic, horrible, a total disaster. Only ~500kB for each picture and the color balance doesn’t exist, I don’t know what to say. To me, I feel like being mistreated, I feel like they took my precious piece-of-art that’s waiting to shine and throw them right into the trash, return me a joke and charged 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, 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 burn the CD, so they don’t have better-quality pictures either. I asked her if she can call them and see by chance they still keep the films for a while for the record. This is what happened: she called the local ‘photo center’, and they will contact the company who actually did the job, Fuji. 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’s 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’re 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’m ‘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 for many times, every time there’s a different employee at the photo station and 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 did this mainly for my family, for they’d be happy to see those pictures, especially during a time when they can’t actually fly over here to celebrate my graduation. I already had another (though also poor resolution… that’s a different story) ‘graduation photoshoot for goth’ with me in my lovely antique clothing and wandering around a cemetery at dusk and don’t have to wear a fake ‘successful’ smile. But I paid my time, I shivered in the cold wind for hours, plus I did take the pictures I took seriously and believe they should be treated with respect. So…yeah, I’ll never trust drugstore film developing service, and keep my 7 or so undeveloped rolls untill I find a trust-worthy independent lab, or I figure out how to do C-41 myself.